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Westminster volunteers fan out to clean city

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Westminster’s parks and open space are going to get a lot of use in the coming months, according to Open Space Stewardship Specialist Kristen May: It’s important they look their best.

“We call it our spring cleaning because we really need to get ready and geared up for all the summer activities,” May said. “We want to make sure the town looks beautiful for all of them.”

May said at least 1,100 volunteers have signed up to fan out across the city and pick up trash May 12 as a part of the city’s annual Community Pride Day.

“It’s our largest volunteer event of the year,” May said. “We don’t get this kind of turnout for anything else all at the same time. It’s a huge show of pride for the community, which is why we call it what we do.”

Toting bright orange trash bags, they’ll scour city roadsides, parks and paths collecting anything they find.

“We also work with Hyland Hills Recreation, so we do the streets and parks and trails in their area as well,” she said.

“Our worst areas tend to be along the streets. So if you are in an open space, it’s usually pristine and lovely in the middle but as you get closer to the street, that’s where you see the most trash.”

The trash collected ranges from bottles, cans and fast food wrappers to bigger items.

“It really depends on location and how adventurous the group is,” May said. “We’ve had people find shopping carts and tires and full-body mannequins, all right along the road.”

At the end, May said they’ll gather in park somewhere in the city — the location is kept under wraps until the volunteers start collecting — for a barbecue paid for by the city. Registration to participate in this year’s event closed on May 3.

“Volunteering, that’s the golden ticket to get in the cookout,” May said.

It’s the 30th year the city has sponsored the event.

“Initially it was much smaller,” May said. “A couple of years ago, we found an old report from the 1990s that had us at 100 volunteers. But now, can count on getting more than a 1,000 ever year.”

May said 30 percent of the volunteers are coming from local Mormon churches, the single biggest volunteering block for the event.

“That’s pretty huge, but we get a lot of individuals signing up for themselves,” she said. “And we get a lot of middle range groups signing up too, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church groups, businesses too.”

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