"You can tell from my current behavior, I had trouble staying between the lines," Nutter said, joking about coming close to failing art classes in school.
In his opening remarks, Nutter said 45,000 volunteers had contributed more than 200,000 hours over the previous six years of cleaning.
They collected about 6.8 million pounds of trash, he said. The 2008 collection day set the record for the largest single-day cleanup effort in the country, Nutter said, before announcing a city record for Saturday's event: 600 cleanup sites had been registered.
At a site in Bridesburg, Roy McCann raked curb trash into a pile. Ryan, his 10-year-old son, shoveled the leaves, crushed cans, and cigarette butts into brown bags provided by the city.
"Cleaning up, sweeping streets," McCann said, was his way of welcoming a new season: "Just trying to get everything squared off for the summer."
The site, at Pratt and Salmon Streets, would be part of a large block party during Memorial Day weekend, McCann, 51, said.
Keeping the neighborhood clean was a matter of pride, McCann said, with agreement from other volunteers.
Patty-Pat Kozlowski, who organized the site cleanup, said about 40 residents pitched in Saturday morning.
Fliers helped get the word out, Kozlowski said, with an added incentive: free tools to keep.
Given 100 recycling bins by the city, Kozlowski prepared kits, each containing four pairs of gloves, a rake, a shovel, and a broom.
Ray Way didn't need new tools. Scraping trash with the broken-off head of a shovel, the 62-year-old Northern Liberties resident said he regularly picks up trash in his area, which coincided Saturday with the cleanup of his neighborhood. Commending the work of the volunteers who came out to help, Way said the time had come, after winter, to get the mean streets cleaned.
"I hate coming out and the first thing you see is this mess out here," he said, gesturing at trash collected at the base of a chain-link fence. "It's springtime."