For people who only know the Arkansas River from driving over it on Kellogg, the Great Arkansas River Trash Roundup on Saturday morning is a way for them to connect to the city’s main waterway, says Libby Albers of the city of Wichita’s WATER Center.
Members of the public can join employees from Cargill, Spirit AeroSystems and the city in the 12th annual cleanup, which will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. Food, including hamburgers and hot dogs, will be served to the volunteers, said Mike Martin of Cargill, the main sponsor of the event. Registration will be at the south end of the parking lot of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, 300 S. Sycamore.
The event drew a record 720 participants last year, and they picked up more than three tons of trash along the river in the downtown area, according to Cargill. The event is the main cleanup that happens in the city each year, and is the same one that used to precede the Wichita River Festival, Albers said. When the festival was moved from May to June, organizers decided to keep the cleanup near Earth Day, which is Monday, she said.
The increase in participants has been so significant that this year, for the first time, the cleanup will extend past the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers and will stretch into Riverside Park, Albers said.
The event also benefits Ducks Unlimited and the Slate Creek Wetlands.
“It’s a chance to get close to one of the reasons the city is … where it is,” Albers said. “It’s a chance to get your hands dirty and feel good the rest of the day.”