Volunteers out in force for Philly Spring Cleanup

Ryan McCann, 10, hauling a bag of raked-up trash to the curb at Pratt and Salmon Streets in Bridesburg on Saturday. He was working with his father, Roy, in the Philly Spring Cleanup.
Ryan McCann, 10, hauling a bag of raked-up trash to the curb at Pratt and Salmon Streets in Bridesburg on Saturday. He was working with his father, Roy, in the Philly Spring Cleanup. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: April 07, 2014

PHILADELPHIA The mean streets of Philadelphia? Do you mean the clean streets of Philadelphia?

Nearly 20,000 volunteers joined in the seventh annual Philly Spring Cleanup on Saturday, organizers said.

"We want to start off cleaning season with a bang," said Donald Carlton, deputy commissioner of the city's Streets Department. "We put our best foot forward. . . . We want to do something symbolic."

The symbolism included Mayor Nutter, officials from various sponsoring groups, and Connor Barwin, an outside linebacker for the Eagles. Nutter and Barwin both took paintbrushes Saturday morning, bending down to redraw the fading blue lines of a four-square court on the playground of Gideon School in Brewerytown.

"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."


jlai@phillynews.com

856-779-3220 @elaijuh

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