Charlie Freeman has been cleaning up garbage at the Kirkland Fourth of July festival for 30 years, and he wishes festivalgoers would throw their trash in a bin more often.
“If people had to pick up the trash themselves, they wouldn’t be throwing it on the ground,” Freeman said.
As the grounds chairman for the Kirkland Lions Club, Freeman coordinates a garbage disposal operation that costs the club about $1,200 a year. It’s after the fireworks and parades are done that the “fun” begins for crews who have to clean up the mess.
Although it’s not something the volunteer crews at Kirkland look forward to, it’s considered part of the festival, said Scott Keneway, chairman for the Kirkland Fourth of July Celebration.
A volunteer crew consisting of Lions Club members, Boy Scouts and high school students swept up the aftermath of the village’s 65th Fourth of July Festival at Franklin Township Park in Kirkland.
“We want to return it ... the way we found it,” Keneway said. “It’s another reason we’ve had a festival for as long we have.”
The park is about seven acres, and volunteers comb every foot of it picking up trash, Keneway said.
In the past, members of the Hiawatha High School baseball team helped the Kirkland Lions Club restore the park. The volunteers walk in a line at arms-length apart to pick up everything in their path.
At their disposal are motor tractors for transporting bins and two 20-yard roll-off trash containers. Multiple garbage cans throughout the park are also used and checked constantly.
In DeKalb, the DeKalb Park District staff helped with cleaning up after the celebration at Hopkins Park, with assistance from the DeKalb Fire Department, which donated two tower lights for the evening cleaning, said Brad Garrison, DeKalb Park District assistant director.
“They’ve donated them in the past,” Garrison said. “They do an awesome job of helping us with activities.”
The city also provided a street sweeper, said Mark Espy, director of DeKalb street operations.
As in Kirkland, the park district makes use of a large trash container as festivities take place. Anything that seems of value such as glasses, wallets or cameras are saved for lost and found, Garrison said.
Freeman is waiting for the next generation to step up and pick up the trash.
“I was young when I started, and the younger guys are supposed to take it on,” Freeman said, “and so far, they haven’t.”