DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines residents celebrated Earth Day early with the 16th Annual Earth Day Trash Bash on Friday.
"16 years ago, we started with a really small group of people just trying to pick up litter and make the city beautiful for the onset of spring," said Ben Page, director of Des Moines Parks and Recreation. "And it just took off and it evolved over the time."
The Earth Day Trash Bash took place at 70 sites across Des Moines, with 4,500 volunteers participating, most of whom were kids.
"We can never have enough volunteers when you're talking about making a city of our size beautiful and clean," Page said.
Volunteers completed a variety of tasks, including tree planting, litter pick-up, invasive species removal and monument restoration.
"We're going to do try to do 100 trees today, with our volunteers, and we're just going to keep working on," said Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie.
These activities took place at many parks across the metro, such as Sargent Park, Gray's Lake Park, Union Park and Glendale Cemetery.
Cownie hopes that Des Moines residents can lead by example and show other Iowans the importance of taking care of the community.
"We hope that all of our other residents in our neighborhoods in or around Des Moines and then into our contiguous communities in all of Central Iowa look at the benefit and study the benefits that are had," he said.
Most importantly, Cownie stressed that helping the environment isn't something that can be accomplished alone.
"We're working together as a team," Cownie said. "And that's what has to happen. There's so much work that needs to be done."