Rockford Start of Summer Celebration Rockford Lions Club

No cigarette butt or candy wrapper left behind by Trash Team

June 16, 2011 // 0 Comments

Rockford church youth make clean sweep during SOS Celebration by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Perhaps the most popular of all of the events hosted by the City of Rockford, the Start of Summer (SOS) Celebration kicked off the summer vacation season this past weekend with a jam-packed three days of festivities. There was something for everyone. Thousands of people flocked downtown to enjoy the traditional Saturday morning SOS parade, food booths galore, a great touring carnival, fireworks, musical entertainment, and a humongous beer tent sponsored by the Rockford Lions Club. Needless to say, all this daily fun and frolic left in its wake a sea of trash on the streets and in the parks of the downtown area and along the entirety of the parade route. Did you ever wonder who cleans up the litter created each year during Rockford’s annual SOS Celebration? Enter the high school and college age youth of Rockford United Methodist Church (RUMC). SOS, now in its 43rd year, has for the past 10 years used the outreach services of the youth that comprise the RUMC Trash Team. Polly VonEschen, organizer of SOS for the past 24 years, said, “The RUMC Trash Team is the very best ever at what they do.” Working quietly behind the scenes, almost unnoticed, the RUMC Trash Team manages to repeatedly empty trash barrels along with picking up every discarded French fry, cigarette butt, candy wrapper, beverage container—you name it, they pick it up! By last Sunday evening, at the festivities’ close, the RUMC Trash Team had used well in excess of 200 60-gallon trash bags to contain discarded refuse. Immediately after Saturday morning’s SOS parade, the RUMC Trash Team “swept” the entire parade route. From start to finish they picked up every single piece of debris that inevitably follows in the wake of a parade, especially one that freely dispenses candy and treats to eager children in the crowd of spectators. Ruth Reickard (a.k.a. “The Trash Lady”) oversaw 30 high school and college age youth along with 14 adult crew leaders that comprised nine clean-up crews. Over the three days of the SOS Celebration, each crew worked a three-hour shift, some starting as early as 6:30 a.m. and others ending as late as 10 p.m. […]