When Traverse City and National Cherry Festival officials meet this fall to do a post-mortem on the festival and talk about its future, there absolutely must be some trash talk.
The near-record crowds that poured into town for the opening weekend of the festival, which included Fourth of July fireworks and U.S. Navy Blue Angels air shows, left behind what someone involved in the cleanup described as an “overwhelming” amount of trash.
And it wasn’t just on the beaches. There was a staggering amount of junk in and under the water as well, everything from beer bottles and foil cocktail pouches to heaps of cigarette butts.
In a 10-by-10 space one observer came up with the following list of items floating about two feet down:
A Budweiser bottle; a 22-ounce Bud Ice can; a pint vodka bottle; enough popped balloons to make a birthday party; enough cigarette butts to fill a five-gallon bucket; a plastic beach pail; a Coke can; a giraffe print plastic bag; a white plastic bag; an orange ear plug; a paper plate; two blue plastic flags; a partial jersey cotton shirt; a plastic drink cup; and a “lifetime supply” of foil cocktail pouches.
There was more. And that’s just the crap in the water. How it gets there is anyone’s guess.
There’s no way the city or the Cherry Festival can prevent the place from being trashed with a half million people in town. That’s up to those who flock to the beaches for the fireworks and air shows and just dump whatever they don’t want on the ground or in the water.
But the cleanup depends, for now, on a relative few who found themselves overwhelmed this year.
They’re back out there this morning cleaning up after the last day of the festival and Saturday night’s fireworks.
They could use some help — by not trashing the place to begin with, of course – but more bodies and a bigger budget, too.