River cleanup in Delaware goes with the flow amid COVID-19

PAUL COMSTOCK
editorial@thisweeknews.com
Volunteers pull a shopping cart from the Olentangy River during the city's 2019 river cleanup at Mingo Park. 500 E. Lincoln Ave. This year's event is still on, albeit with a much smaller crowd and health-related protocols.

The annual cleanup of the Olentangy River in Delaware will return to Mingo Park on Saturday, Aug. 22, with some concessions to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Caroline Cicerchi, Delaware's watershed and sustainability coordinator, said the event will be limited to two groups of 10, with staggered check-in times of 9:30 and 10 a.m.

Cicerchi said this year's group will be much smaller than in previous years.

"In 2019, we had 74 volunteers (and) collected 2,200 pounds of trash, including 860 pounds of scrap metal that was recycled at Sims Brothers Recycling," she said.

She said the cleanup is one of the Delaware public-utilities department's most popular volunteer events.

"Volunteers always enjoy helping out and getting into the river," Cicerchi said. "I think it's an eye-opening experience for some when they see the large piles of trash bags and miscellaneous items we haul out at the end of the program.

"We hope that it encourages folks to stay connected with and dedicated to keeping our natural resources healthy, including our designated scenic Olentangy River," she said.

Items pulled from the river in the past have included traffic cones, shopping carts, tires, a car battery, a microwave oven, a bowling ball, bicycles and, of course, glass and plastic bottles, she said.

Participants must wear close-toed shoes.

Masks are required during check-in and whenever a distance of 6 feet cannot be maintained, Cicerchi said.

Masks, cleanup supplies and bottles of water will be provided at the event, she said.

Volunteers will work on foot in the river, water levels permitting, and no boats will be involved.

This year's event will run from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

Volunteers will gather at the first parking lot at Mingo Park, south of the pool, near the boat launch.

The deadline to register is Wednesday, Aug. 19, or until spots are filled. To register, participants may email Cicerchi at ccicerchi@delawareohio.net and include what check-in time they prefer. No walk-up registrations will be accepted unless space permits.

Keep Delaware County Beautiful is sponsoring the event.

"Even in the midst of a pandemic, we can still find ways to beautify our community," said Jenifer Way-Young, Keep Delaware County Beautiful coordinator.

"This cleanup is a great way to get outside and do something good for the environment, all while practicing social distancing and other public-health protocols," she said.

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