Fourth of July leaves messes to be cleaned up

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

If Monday night was the party, Tuesday morning was the hangover.

Those who had the most fun on the Fourth of July in Cape Girardeau and Jackson were also left with the most work to do, getting up early to rid their neighborhoods and communities of fallen fireworks, paper plates and other tossed-out trash.

"The Fourth of July is the best holiday, but the fifth of July is always the worst day," said 17-year-old Margaret Zimmer, who spent much of her morning cleaning up the street in front of her family's house on Sylvan Lane.

The fireworks display only lasted about 40 minutes, but she, her brother and a family friend knew it was going to take much longer to clean up the spent fireworks, which had been reduced to street confetti.

"We do this every year and we clean it up every year," Zimmer said with a sigh. "We made the mess."

It was more than neighborhood block parties that left Independence Day litter behind -- both Cape Girardeau and Jackson held festivals that were messier places afterward.

But both communities made sure there were people on the job cleaning up before most go to work.

Old Town Cape organizes Libertyfest, which was held in downtown Cape Girardeau Monday evening. Executive director Tim Arbeiter said Tuesday morning that the area had already been cleaned up.

Starting at 7 a.m., young people from the Girardot Center, which is designed to help court-appointed juveniles become more self-reliant and responsible, were scouring the downtown for Styrofoam cups, soda cans and fireworks.

Arbeiter said there probably wasn't as much trash as last year, considering that steady rain kept some people away until the 10 p.m. river fireworks display.

Jackson parks director Shane Anderson said the festival at City Park left overflow trash and litter in unexpected places. So, just as is done every year, the city paid $250 to about 25 Boy Scouts from Troop 11 to pick up trash.

"It's a fund raiser for them and a benefit for us," Anderson said. "They can bring in the numbers, walk across the creek line with more eyes and hands."

Then city crews can follow behind and focus on larger chores like emptying big trash barrels and bins. The litter was about the same as last year, Anderson said.

Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson said he hoped that a concerted community effort to fight litter was on top of people's minds as they decided to either throw trash in a container or on the street. The cities of Cape Girardeau, Jackson and Scott City had vowed to make their communities litter free by July 4.

"Have we met that goal? That's a difficult goal to measure," Knudtson said. "... I believe our goal was defined as one to get our house cleaned up by July 4. I believe, for the most part, we do have our house cleaned up."

Now he wants it to stay that way.

"It doesn't do any good to clean it up just to get it dirty again," he said. "Now the challenge is to keep educating people so that it becomes a way of life."

335-6611, extension 137

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