BY ANDREW BENNEY
After the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations on Ezra Street in Waterloo came to a close, the event’s focus changed from excessive drinking to something a little more orderly.
Over 25 volunteers took to the streets on the morning after the parties, doing their part for the community by cleaning up the solid layer of garbage on the street. On top of this, the volunteers were also forced to trek through the vicious mud pit the streets had become. The wet weather and a full day of young, drunk people parading uncaringly was not a recipe for a clean street.
Empty bottles, cans, cups, countless pieces of green trash and ruined St. Patrick’s themed apparel were picked up and disposed of by the group of individuals, who, for the most part, were simply people looking to make a difference.
“No, I’m not part of any team or club that, like, plans to go out and do this,” said Jamie Bate, a knowledge integration student at the University of Waterloo, while gesturing to the seemingly unlimited amounts of waste on the road. “It’s just something a couple of my friends and I decided on last second to be honest. I live close so it wasn’t a big deal coming over and I just figured that any older people living around here would probably appreciate any help getting rid of all of this.”
Although some people felt helping with the tidying was a small price to pay, overall, it was no small task as this St. Patrick’s Day weekend was assumed to be one of the biggest that Kitchener-Waterloo has ever seen in terms of numbers. Waterloo Regional Police estimate that approximately 15,000 people showed up to Ezra Avenue to take part in the green-coloured festivities, which would be a record number for the celebration.
The City of Waterloo reported that there were no major incidents, just a very busy night for emergency crews and bylaw officials as most incidents were liquor or public nuisance offences.
The volunteers were mostly made up of students from the area, as well as a few kind-hearted citizens and passersby. Kelsey Ward, a business accounting student at Wilfrid Laurier University, said it’s really just common courtesy, especially if you live in the area.
“I live in an apartment on Ezra, so I actually get to avoid dealing with a lot of the trash on the day of. But, I still have to walk to school and everything and no one wants to be walking through broken glass regularly. It only makes sense to come out and help clean. If more people did it then it would be less work for everyone individually,” she said.
This fact definitely rang true as the small cleaning crew made their way through the war zone that was Ezra Avenue, over to Bricker Avenue and finally even combing over the Laurier campus, located only a few short blocks away from the site of the celebrations.
Not much could be done about the mud on the following day, but there was indeed a considerable difference in the amount of visible litter by the end of Saturday, hopefully leaving any disgruntled residents a bit more satisfied.
“It’s a little bit of cleaning up for hours and hours of public partying. I can understand why people don’t want to come out, but if they really appreciate the city and police and people living here letting everyone use Ezra as a playground, then picking up a couple of dirty cups is nothing,” Bate said.