Spring cleaning spruces up Marquette

Elizabeth Bailey

This spring marks the 34th annual Spring Cleanup around the city of Marquette.

April 28 is the official day of the clean up. However, volunteers are welcome to clean up at anytime between April 14 and May 5.

According to Jill LaMere, chairwoman of the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee, it’s a tradition that was started by a few women who wanted to brighten up the city.

“In the past, when you came into town from the south, you would see the railroad yards and the sewage plant,” LaMere said. “There was nothing attractive to bring you into town. It was all very industrial-looking and there was nothing that said, ‘Stop here. This is really a cool place.’”

The cleanup started with just a few members going out with trash bags and wandering up and down Lakeshore Boulevard. Today, the cleanup has grown to include many more members and covers a larger area.

The committee estimates about 45 groups, such as the USOEC and Boy and Girl Scout groups, will participate this year.

However, any students can get a group of friends together and pick up trash wherever it is needed.

The main job of the committee is to set up a specific date to go out and clean up, but the groups themselves make up their own schedules.

According to LaMere, the committee gives the participating groups a three-week window to complete their designated cleanup.

The City of Marquette requires the use of official city garbage bags that are donated for the cleanup and are obtainable from Heritage Motors at 729 W. Washington St.

The main focus of the cleanup is public areas that are not addressed specifically by the city or businesses, as well as the bike paths around town.

“The biggest problem is cigarette butts,” LaMere said. “I can remember the first time we cleaned the beach. I thought to myself, ‘Why are all these healthy people walking on the beach and tossing their cigarettes?’”

The cigarette butts are actually tossed into the road. They then end up going through the waste water treatment and in turn, end up on the beach.

According to LaMere there are millions of them around town in the spring.

Sponsors of the Spring Cleanup project are Heritage Motors, who distributes the garbage bags, the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee, who organizes the event, and McDonalds, who gives vouchers to the volunteers.