Residents clean up at East River State Park

Cleaning up: Kevin Klima, Clennel Charles, and Melanie Sawyer assist in the East River State Park cleanup on Saturday, as Smorgasburg roars in the background.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

They did not have enough shovels to pass out to the nearly 100 volunteers who showed up to help clean up the East River State Park on Saturday.

“There were so many of them and they were so anxious to get everything done, we had to hold them back,” said Friends of East River State Park member Jackie Meyer, who led the volunteers. “I didn’t have enough equipment for everybody, but I tried to make sure there was something for everybody to do.”

The annual cleanup was a part of a statewide push to use volunteer labor to revitalize the parks.

“It’s right across the street from our store, so we want to keep it nice,” said Amanda Mitchell, owner of Jungle Design. “Any state park that needs love, we’re supportive of that.”

Sowing the seeds: Ian Kowalksi digs in the earth while visitors dig into Smorgasburg on Saturday afternoon.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The cleanup went on while thousands milled around the controversial weekly Smorgasburg along with a record convention that was taking place in the park that day.

The volunteers pulled weeds, made beds around trees, and planted a variety of flowers, including black-eyed susans, cherry laurel, and double knockout roses.

Longtime residents say they were happy to see how the park has been transformed during the last few year.

“I knew that park when it was derelict and a habitat for heroin junkies and prostitutes,” said volunteer Melanie Sawyer, who has lived in the area for 13 years. “Now my son and I go down there and have fun.”

Amanda Mitchell helps cleanup East River State Park as thousands wander the park for Smorgasburg.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

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