The popular Facebook page Olympia Memes will tap the city’s volunteer spirit this weekend by hosting the second annual Oly Clean.
Hundreds of volunteers will pick up trash Saturday morning at parks and public places across the city. Last year’s cleanup mobilized about 400 people who collected nearly 4,000 pounds of debris — everything from cigarette butts and food wrappers to alcohol containers and uncapped syringes.
Run by an anonymous manager under the pseudonym “Dan O’Brian,” Olympia Memes has coordinated more than 250 volunteers so far for this year’s event. Although primarily known for posting off-beat photos about life in the Olympia area, the page also steers discussions on local issues.
“It was this needle epidemic of sorts that spawned the cleaning event in the first place,” the manager told The Olympian, noting how residents of all ages and demographics came together to make things better. “People stopped complaining and did something instead.”
Teams will gather Saturday morning. Garbage bags and gloves will be provided. A list of locations, team leaders and sponsors is available at the Oly Clean 2015 page on Facebook.
Olympia resident Tim Minarchi will lead “Team Risky Business.” This all-adult group plans to tackle the train tracks from the Jefferson Street tunnel to I-5.
Minarchi recently walked the route to get an idea of the task ahead. One of the worst areas, he said, was behind the “Welcome to Olympia” sign on Plum Street, where he found several loose syringes.
Minarchi participated last year and was amazed at how much trash was collected in an effort that relied solely on volunteers and donations from the private sector.
“This is not a city-run program,” he said, “and that’s why, in my opinion, it works.”
After everyone’s done, a crew of five people and two trucks from the Olympia branch of 1-800-GOT-JUNK will haul away trash piles Saturday afternoon at no cost.
“Last year, we took out roughly 4,000 pounds of trash,” said Stephen Sprague, general manager. “I’m really hoping we can break that record this year.”
The cleanup will wind up with a celebration at 5 p.m. Saturday at Big Whisky Saloon, 425 Franklin St. SE. Participants will get pizza and prizes.