Kristen and John Lyons walked home from dinner on Madison Street on April 2 and noticed a lot of litter and trash.
The next day, Kristen said she saw a comment on a Forest Park Facebook group about lots of garbage around town. She’d seen it for herself, but rather than just talk about it online, Lyons wanted to do something about it, so she organized a trash pick-up, held on April 8.
Kristen was elected on April 6 to the Park District of Forest Park board and her husband, John, to the District 91 school board
She decided on the meet-up location of Madison Street and Desplaines Avenue and posted on Facebook, inviting residents to come with trash bags and gloves, wearing masks, of course, to pick up garbage.
“I decided that writing about the issue of litter around town was not enough, I needed to do something!” said Lyons in an email to the Review. “I love my village, I take pride in my village, I want to see my village succeed, and picking up trash and litter around town is one way I can show pride in my community.
The weather was rainy, and the meet-up time was preceded by a storm, but about 15 people showed up, including resident Susannah Yong, whose post on Facebook had originally prompted Lyons to decide to take action.
Rob Sall and John Cunningham, responsible for organizing the flower bulb planting alongside Ed’s Way last year, were among those who came out to clean, bringing a bucket and “picker.” Lyons said they regularly walk their dog and pick up trash on the southside of town.
For about 45 minutes the group focused on picking up trash on Madison Street.
“We all just met and spread out, like ants,” Lyons said. Working with two people, Lyons collected four large trash bags in an hour.
The most interesting find? An open jar filled about a third with spaghetti sauce outside a liquor store. The most commonly found trash items were cigarette butts and empty liquor bottles.
Lyons plans to make this a regular event and held a second meetup to clean up on Sunday, April 18. Residents gathered at the corner of Madison Street and Harlem Avenue in the vacant lot where a Chipotle restaurant will be coming soon.
During the second event, they collected in total over 12 bags of trash, which included over 300 cigarette butts, over 10 face masks, and more than eight empty liquor bottles.
The next meetup will be Sunday, April 25 at 3 p.m. at the corner of Circle Avenue and Roosevelt Road. Volunteers are asked to wear a mask and gloves and to bring a trash bag. They should not pick up sharp objects or needles, which can be a health hazard.