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Downtown cleanup day brings in 50+ volunteers, community collaborations

Three Rivers Fire Department Firefighter Cody Yoder sprays water from a fire hose to wash down Main Street Saturday morning as part of downtown Three Rivers’ annual Community Clean-Up Day.

Volunteers Samantha Yeager of Dowagiac (left) and Alicia Weaver of Niles (right) help pull weeds in the Mural Mall walkway as part of Saturday’s Community Clean-Up Day in downtown Three Rivers.

By Robert Tomlinson
News Director

THREE RIVERS — Volunteers from Three Rivers and the surrounding areas got up bright and early to help with an annual cleanup project downtown Saturday morning.

Downtown Three Rivers held its annual Community Clean-Up Day in several sections of the downtown area Saturday, which brought in more than 50 volunteers to weed, mulch, pick up trash, trim trees, and do other cleanup activities around the area.

“We invited the community to come out and give the center of our town a thorough spring cleaning so it can look nice and attractive for all the tourists that are going to be visiting our region this event season,” Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Cameron Mains said.

The morning began with the Three Rivers Fire Department blocking off the downtown area of North Main Street to do its customary wash-down of the road and sidewalks. At around 9 a.m., volunteers got to work at several different locations around downtown: the Mural Mall, Memory Isle Park, downtown’s east parking lot and East Alley, the green space east of the east parking lot, and the old Farmer’s Market area of Scidmore Park.

“We want it to be nice because we know so many people are going to be traveling to the area this summer, and we want it to look nice when they get here,” Mains said. “That’s where people are going to be coming and visiting, and there’s always potential for investment to come and see that this is a town that prides itself in taking care of the look and feel of the town.”

The cleanup was also done with the help of the Three Rivers Improvement Movement, the city’s Parks Department and the Department of Public Services. The Parks Department, Mains said, helped out quite a bit down at the Scidmore Park area, and that being able to collaborate with them was a great way to get more done.

“Brittany Wendzel, the parks director, her and I have come together and collaborated so it’s not just a downtown thing, it’s an all-city thing, and we want to expand on that. Me and her came together and said, let’s make it happen. Many hands make light work,” Mains said.

Whatever was cleaned up was mainly put in bags which were picked up by DPS on Monday.

Mains praised the turnout of as many volunteers as there were, which also included people from the Three Rivers Public Library, which closed for the day to help out.

“It takes a village to get this done. The more people that come, the easier it is, the more work we can do,” Mains said.

Wendzel agreed, saying there was “strength in numbers” when it came to working with the DDA and the volunteers.

“There’s definitely strength in numbers, and they’re a really passionate, gung-ho group of people, and I think this is how you get things done, coming together,” Wendzel said.

Sometimes, though, the beauty of nature can interfere with the best-laid plans of the group. When one group began to pull weeds and mulch around the sign at the entrance to Joshua Drive off of East Michigan Avenue, volunteers found a nesting mother duck lying in the weeds. It was a surprise to those working in the area to find the duck.

“She’s hissed a couple times. She’s got her feathers all spread out to protect the eggs,” Mary O’Connor, the volunteer lead over near the east parking lot, said. “It was like, oh no, we’re not weeding here. We’re probably coming back in a couple weeks to do this; she probably will be hatched by then and probably taken them into the river or something, waddle across Michigan to a safer spot.”

Overall, Mains said the benefit of the cleanup for the community was to show that there are people that care about keeping Three Rivers looking as great as it can.

“This is a pretty intense weekend; it’s Mother’s Day weekend, it’s Saturday, it’s a bit drizzly out, so the people who still came out and showed up, I thought it was great,” Mains said. “It’s inspiring. It’s nice to see physical acts of service shown through the lens of community pride.”

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 or

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