Coronavirus: South Park gets annual Earth Day love despite virus

Residents in Dayton’s South Park neighborhood weren’t going to let the COVID-19 outbreak ruin one of their favorite traditions of beautifying their little corner of earth.

The annual Earth Day South Park cleanup typically involves upwards of 50 neighbors gathering to cleanup trash. Organizers give away prizes and T-shirts, hold a scavenger hunt, and have free South Park Tavern pizza available. Coronavirus did take away some of the physical closeness of the event this year’s cleanup Wednesday, but neighbors worked hard to make sure it didn’t take away any their sense of community altogether.

“It was hard since this is such a close-knit neighborhood and a social neighborhood, but it was good to still have the event and still do our part,” said Amy Kennedy, South Park resident of more than 20 years.

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Families took to social media instead to post their cleanup progress pictures, encourage others and thank everyone for another successful year. Organizers said they saw around 15 families out for the event, but many more posting their photos to Facebook.

Coutney Colborn, a co-organizer of the cleanup and South Park resident, said people brought out their “vintage” South Park Cleanup T-shirts from years past. Each past year had its own color and so this year for the first time neighbors were out in all different colors, remembering good times from previous cleanups.

“It was such a nice day,” Colborn said. “People got out and I would really like to keep this up.”

South Park residents Sean and Cole Clark brought around their personal trailer to collect all the trash to take to the dump. Pre-coronavirus, the city of Dayton would arrange a special pick-up to take care of the trash.

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Throughout the at-home orders, the Clarks have taken numerous trips to the dump for neighbors, free-of-charge, who are doing some deep-cleaning during quarantine.

Coronavirus might have stopped some of the usual fun that happens during the cleanup, but Colborn said neighborhoods should remember that picking up trash can be a rewarding activity to get the family out of the house any day.

“It’s just a great way to give back to the neighborhood and to feel that community spirit even though we couldn’t do it together as a group,” Kennedy said. “I think it was a good activity to kind of renew our sense of purpose, our sense of community because so much of that is lost when you’re disconnected or just home by yourself.”

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