When two groups combine their efforts and their events, the results are bigger and better, say organizers of a local run and community cleanup.On Saturday, Mansfield and First United Methodist Church will work together on the In the City 5K & Cleanup, meshing the church’s run with the city’s trash-off.“The Son Run was a great event with good participation,” said Susan Luttrell, director of serving and outreach at First Methodist, “but we always wanted more of a community feel. Leslie Waldson (the church’s director of community life) wanted to broaden the reach of the run so it would make a bigger impact on the community.”Meanwhile, city education specialist Arianne Shipley was looking for a way to attract more people to the annual spring trash-off, a city-sponsored clean-up of a local park.“In the past the numbers haven’t been high because of so many other events at the same time,” Shipley said. “We used to have maybe 100 people, but we wanted to expand and let people pick the park they want to clean up. In the fall, we have 250 people show up. Spring is harder to attend.”The two decided to roll the two events into one, include a free hot dog lunch and toss in a live band.“I think it’s the first of its kind in a long time in our community,” Luttrell said. “We can clean up our community and have an awesome day of fellowship.”The day starts with on-site registration for the 5K run at 7 a.m. at Katherine Rose Memorial Park, 303 N. Walnut Creek Drive, followed by the mile fun run at 8:30 a.m. and then the 5K at 9 a.m. No registration is required for the fun run; day-of registration for the 5K is $30.At 10 a.m., the cleanup begins at seven Mansfield parks, including McClendon Park East and West, McKnight Park East and West, Town Park, Phillip Thompson Soccer Complex and Rose Park. There is no fee to participate in the cleanup, but people are asked to register at www.inthecity.us. Participants can choose which park they would like to clean, Shipley said. Trash bags, gloves, sunscreen, bug spray and hand sanitizer will be available. People who come to clean should wear closed-toe shoes and jeans if they plan to work in the wooded areas, she said.There will be plenty to do, Shipley said, and all ages are welcome.“Sometimes we get one ton, sometimes four or five tons, depending on the park,” she said. “The huge rains we’ve had I’m sure have washed in a lot of litter. We’ve had tires, toiles and even washers and dryers (pulled out of the creeks). It’s not necessarily Mansfield residents, it comes from upstream and polluting.”After the cleanup, it’s party time. At noon, city employees will man the grills, serving up a hot dog lunch while vendors set up booths and children play in bounce houses at Rose Park.Vocal Trash will also perform hits from the past few decades, but with a twist.“They have environmentally and ecologically friendly lyrics,” Shipley said. “All of their instruments are made out of trash.”Proceeds from the event will go back into the community, benefiting Trinity Habitat for Humanity, which has built several houses on the west side of Mansfield, and the Wesley Mission Center, a local outreach sponsored by First Methodist Mansfield.Organizers are expecting up to 1,000 participants, they said. Additional parking will be available at R. L. Anderson Stadium, 1015 E. Broad St., and Hardy Allmon Park across the street from Rose Park. Free shuttles will also be available from First Methodist, 777 N. Walnut Creek Drive, for overflow parking.
Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451 Twitter: @AmandaRogersNM