More than a thousand people showed up in their grubbies on Saturday to clean up the Newhall Creek behind the Community Center during the 15th annual Santa Clarita River Rally.
Armed with information about native wildlife and plants to avoid, the volunteers donned gloves and pulled up 4.25 tons of trash, including a grocery shopping cart and several tires.
Before they could go into the river, volunteers had to go through a quick training session to become familiar with wildlife they might encounter, such as horned lizards, wood rats, jackrabbits and rattlesnakes. This was also a requirement from the California Fish and Game Department, which issued the city the permit for the community cleanup.
The workers quickly fanned out along the mile-long stretch of mostly-dry riverbed, picking up garbage and debris and filling up heavy black plastic bags.
Students from Golden Valley High School reported that they found a car stuck in the side of the riverbed, but removing it would have caused too much damage to the river.
Scout groups, church groups, Honor Societies, school service clubs and individuals turned out, fueled by Starbucks coffee and Krispy Kreme donuts, for their three-hour assignment. Most wore T-shirts from their organizations, including some participants in local beauty pageants, who wore satin sashes over their crown-emblazoned tees.
Travis Lange of the city’s Environmental Services Department said that the event was an overwhelming success. Several people attended the environmental expo in the multipurpose room of the Center, where they learned about conservation, wildlife, recycling and how they could be better stewards of the plant.
The event is so popular with scout groups, schools and service organizations, the city hardly has to advertise for helpers.