SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — River Day 2021 started out strong and just kept going. 

Yesterday was the annual cleanup of the South Orange section of the Rahway River sponsored by the South Orange Green Team. By annually collecting the accumulated garbage in the water, volunteers reduce the threats to the wildlife and water quality, and leave the aesthetics of the river better than they found it.

Whereas the bulk of the volunteers had shown up in the afternoon in previous years, organizer and South Orange Trustee Walter Clarke said by 11:30 a.m. they had already passed out all the reusable collection buckets, leaving some volunteers to wait until the first cohort returned with them.

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“I think there was pent-up demand,” from last year’s event being canceled by the pandemic, he said. “We had quite a crowd here right at 11. People were here and raring to go.”

Unlike in years past, River Day 2021 had no ancillary festivities, like exhibits, music and food. But that didn’t deter individuals, couples and families from coming out in droves. “It’s a trimmed down, socially distant, safe version this year just to get it back on the map,” Clarke said.

On the map it was: After the event was over, Clarke shared with TAPinto SOMA that one ton of trash was collected by 200 people. Items found in the river included hubcaps, a car tire, a bicycle, a 12-foot ladder and a police traffic barricade.

Robin Mackechnie of South Orange came out with her family to volunteer “to help the environment — to clean up the river,” she said, and ended up with a major find: Robin fished a hubcap out of the Rahway.

Participants were asked to use the hashtag “#SORiverDay” so that photos and information could be shared. 

 

In non-trash collection, a native turtle was found by Lynda Beck, a sign of a healthy ecology.

 

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