The COVID-19 pandemic halted the city’s annual Santa Clara River cleanup this year, but it didn’t stop residents from showing up and cleaning up their neighborhoods Saturday morning for a modified version of the event.
With trash bags, gloves and hats, hundreds typically partake in the Rivery Rally and Environmental Expo to clean up portions of the riverbed. However, amid ongoing Public Health orders for people to physically distance, the city offered a drive-thru alternative where residents collected cleanup kits from any one of eight locations citywide, and then were encouraged to pick up litter at local neighborhoods and trails.
Hundreds still showed up, with vehicles lining up to pick up their kits starting at 8 a.m., according to Curtis Williams, a city solid waste administrator.
“So far, we’ve seen about 150 people at this location alone,” said Williams, who was stationed at Central Park. “It’s been a great turnout, from about 1,400 people that usually sign up for the River Rally to about 1,100 that signed up (for the neighborhood cleanup). So, it’s amazing to see the community come out.”
Among those who stopped by for kits at Central Park was local high school student Larkin Metts, who said it was a great opportunity to spend time outdoors with her family while beautifying her community.
“School is stressful right now because it takes up so much time on Zoom, so I love being outdoors. I was really excited about today,” said Metts. “I think it’s important for me, especially, to get out and be social with others in a safe manner and help out.”
The event also incited visitors from outside Santa Clarita to clean up, such as Rancho Cucamonga residents Troy and Melanie Velasquez, who were finding opportunities to familiarize themselves with the community ahead of possibly relocating to the city and becoming business owners.
“We picked up a lot of baby wipes, sanitizing wipes, plastic bottles and lots of face masks,” said Troy. “We just saw how involved Santa Clarita is. It’s such a beautiful area and they take care of it, and we just wanted to be a part of that.”
Participants also had the opportunity to partake in a scavenger hunt and learn about recycling, water quality and composting via a series of online videos on greensantaclarita.com.