Chilly day for a river clean up

Students returning with the trash the collected on April 8, 2017. Photo by Kristie Watkins

Perhaps it was the cooler temperatures (the mid-50’s) or the impending break, but the 2017 Tuck River Cleanup held on Saturday, April 8 was significantly smaller than in years past.

The annual cleanup put on by Base Camp Cullowhee is the largest single day river cleanup in the nation, covering over 27 miles of the Tuckasegee River.

Previous years have brought over 1,000 people out to clean up the river, this year was a different scene for the event, however. Organizers said that right at 600 people came out to participate and they were done hours before they had originally anticipated.

Basecamp student employee, Jakob Phillips,  said the students were still lined up around 8 a.m. and seemed excited to go despite the weather. He believes the cold temperatures that morning is what turned people away.

Phillips was in charge of collecting registration forms and giving out wrist bands to the first 500 people for free t-shirts before they boarded their bus to go to the river. He expected the wristbands to go a lot faster, but almost everyone who participated got a free shirt.

Hanna O’Brien, WCU sophomore, participated in the Tuck River Cleanup for the first time this year. She had a great time and looks forward to doing it again.

“I think this is a great thing to do, especially getting the whole campus and community involved. People were really in tune with picking up the trash on the river and stopping on the banks and grabbing it no matter what,” O’Brien said.

She said her and her friends were very cold when waiting in line but they did not get too cold on the river. She was thankful for the warm sun after they finished.

Despite the smaller turnout, the cleanup was still a success in the eyes of those who participated. Organized groups such as clubs, greek life and academic programs joined together as well as individuals to go down the river and collect trash.

Once the rafters got to the take out location, they returned their gear and threw away their trash. Base Camp took pictures of those who found the unique items in the river. Some of the items included: a chair, several tires, large signs, a ukulele and children’s toys.

After students returned to campus, they were able to get free food donated by Aramark and enjoy yard games and live music.

See the pictures below for a taste of the excitement and fun from the day.

Tuck River Clean up 2017