Public Square is squeaky clean again, no butts about it.
About a dozen people braved the coldest, rainiest morning so far this month to pick up thousands of cigarette butts and other pieces of litter around the square on Saturday for the Watertown Downtown Business Associations Cleanup Day.
Association board member Kris D. Marsala said the annual cleanup effort always is the weekend before the Armed Forces Day Parade, which starts at 10 a.m. Saturday. The procession goes from Watertown High School north on Washington Street.
It gets a good crowd, so we want to make it look as good as we can, he said. We started when I became president, so about 15 years ago.
The number of volunteers was down this year due to the weather. Mr. Marsala said he received calls throughout the morning from student clubs and Watertown residents canceling plans to help.
The rain really deterred a lot of people, said board member David A. Winters.
But the 12 people who did show up remained in good spirits and joked around with one another while cleaning, and they finished in an hour about an hour and a half earlier than planned. After their hard work, they sought refuge in the newly opened Salon on the Square, clinging to steaming cups of coffee.
We can only do so much when its wet, Mr. Marsala said. Its hard sweeping when everything sticks to the ground.
He said the biggest culprit was the number of cigarette butts the crew found.
I dont know how people can afford that many, he said. Theyre so expensive.
Belinda K. Cornell, a business association member and owner of Salon on the Square, said she picked up four handfuls of littered cigarettes just in front of her shop.
Her husband, Adam J., also an association member, said he found blue strings from the street sweepers, candy wrappers and a bandage.
This is great weather for Watertown. Its above freezing, he said, jokingly. The majority of the rain stopped before we started, so it really wasnt that bad.
Mr. Marsala said the square is becoming cleaner every year, so the crew does not have to spend hours picking up trash anymore.
When we came down, even though it was wet, the square has been in petty good condition, he said. The citys been doing a good job keeping the space clean.
Watertown Downtown Business Association always is looking for new members and volunteers. For more information, visit www.publicsquare.com.