By Anaiah Liserio
Trash and Easter used to go hand in hand at Brackenridge Park, but recent efforts to educate park users on recycling and proper garbage disposal have made a major impact, members of San Antonio Parks and Recreation said this morning from the banks of the San Antonio River.
Early Monday morning, families had long since left, but the well-organized efforts could be seen throughout the park. Dozens of students, volunteers and city employees walked the grounds of Brackenridge Park clearing the debris of garbage. What trash remained was organized into neatly assembled piles and recyclables set aside for pick up.
Gabriela Tello, volunteer services coordinator with San Antonio Parks and Recreation, said she had been coordinating efforts since Friday.
“We started on Friday, and we’re here Saturday and Sunday,” Tello said.
San Antonio Parks and Recreation is about giving back to the community, Tello added, providing a partial list of its annual responsibilities including litter cleanup, planting, maintenance and providing community service hours, especially for college students.
Leilah Powell, executive director of Brackenridge Park Conservancy, was on site helping with the cleanup.
“The emphasis is to get people to use the recycling bags, cans, and to not completely cover the ground with garbage,” Powell said, adding that this year is a 180 degree change from how the park typically looks post-Easter Sunday.
Generations of San Antonians have camped free of charge in Brackenridge during the Easter holiday. The traditional week-long celebration is documented in a series of photographs by Ricardo Romo in “Family Traditions, Easter in Brackenridge Park” on view at the Witte Museum through June 24.
“Easter Sunday is a tradition,” said Powell, and for many San Antonians that means reserving their spots a week in advance and camping from midnight Thursday through Easter Sunday.
But the family tradition also includes hauling in plastic bags of every size, soda bottles and other items that accumulated into literally tons of trash, some of which ends up in the river. Before this year’s effort, the cleanup took weeks, park officials said.
This year, San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department officials encouraged Easter holiday campers to attend one of four community meetings held in late March and early April to discuss recycling and the care of their favorite parks.
During the educational meetings, family members who participate in San Antonio’s free camping tradition were told they could learn more about recycling, what to bring, what would be provided, and how to avoid contaminating recyclables. Recycling bags were provided.
Joggers and park visitors walking the trail also noticed the clean up efforts.
“Earlier this morning there was trash everywhere,” park visitor Monique Hardy said. “But they seem to be cleaning up pretty fast, and there’s even a coordinator handing out water and everything.”
Ruben Mendez, senior equipment operator for Parks and Recreation, said there were quite a few people off for “Easter Monday,” but that they “wouldn’t stop until they were done,” and added with humor, that would more likely be tomorrow.