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Local bar owner planning Earth Day cleanup with a twist

Buffalo Olmseatd Parks Conservancy
Days Park is beautiful in the winter, but melting snow can reveal piles of trash.

Local environmentalists and volunteers are being offered an unusual variation on the standard Earth Day cleanup: a cleanup followed by some time in some local bars on a Monday night.

Begun in 1970, Earth Day cleanups of land or water have been pretty standard because there is so much trash just tossed away by people passing by. This year's local variation, scheduled for next Monday, comes because of the trash exposed by melting snow.

Restaurateur Mike Shatzel said he saw a melted snow trash pile outside his Thin Man brewery on Elmwood  Avenue in Buffalo. It made him decide to mix his array of bars and the need for cleanup in Allentown and the Elmwood Village.

Councilmember Joel Feroleto decided it was a good idea and backed it.

"We're expecting over 200 volunteers to clean up the Hoyt Lake area, Elmwood and Allentown, so this is going to be different than other cleanups that start in the morning," Feroleto said. "This is going to be on a Monday evening. The cleanup is going to start between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m."

After the cleanup, volunteers can head off to Shatzel's Thin Man and get a free beer and some food. After that, they pay. The proprietor said he is hoping the idea will spread to other bar owners across the city next year.

Speaking on a rain-swept balcony of Marcy Casino Sunday evening, Elmwood Village Association Executive Director Ashley Smith said it is businesses and citizens giving back.

"The Elmwood Village Association is really excited to be a partner on this," Smith said. "We've seen a lot of growing small business energy on the Elmwood Strip over the last year and it's really exciting that we have businesses that have been such long-standing members of the community and are really looking for ways to give back. So we're really excited to collaborate. We'll be out there on Monday."

Olmsted Parks Conservancy Executive Director Stephanie Crockatt said volunteers help.

"The conservancy relies on over 2,200 volunteers a year in cleaning up the park. We're very happy that Delaware Park and Days Park (a pocket park in Allentown) will receive some attention this coming Earth Day," Crockatt said. "It's a very important day and, again, very important partners and we applaud this partner and anything that can help our parks."

Next year, the sponsors hope bars around the city buy into this approach for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the birth of the modern environmental movement.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.