Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spring Clean-up Day '09

(click images to enlarge)

So as you probably noticed, it rained last Saturday. Not all the time, and it was mainly just a few drops, but the hardest rain of the day came right before 10am, and I was gloomily speculating about what effect this would have on turn-out as I approached the run.

Turned out some people had shown up a lot earlier than me--as early as 8am in some cases. Bailea, our dedicated run manager and co-founder, had made it up here from Brooklyn by then, and the tools had been dropped off, so that worked out really well--it was more like a seven hour clean-up, where people showed up, worked an hour or two, left, and were replaced by others just arriving. Some worked four hours or more. And Bailea, of course, was there the whole time. But everybody who showed up to work even an hour deserves a round of applause. Or a drink container with "It's My Park!" on it, which is what we actually got this time around.

It should be said two of the humans present were having as much fun as the dogs--including their dog, Jonny.

Piper the Labradoodle, atypically stationary--snap a picture quick!
And she's off!

It's always a guessing game as to how many people show up to work--Bailea tried to keep tabs on the number of volunteers with a sign-up sheet, but it was still hard to keep track--definitely over thirty people total, not counting the dogs (who only volunteered to get in our way, anyhow). Imagine how many people would have put in an appearance if it wasn't rainy and humid--the weather was amazing later in the day, but that didn't do much for turn-out.

This time, the Parks Department gave us plenty of shovels and plastic rakes, but only two small wheelbarrows, and no metal rakes (which are better-suited to spreading the chips). Every year, there are more "It's My Park Day" events (and more dog runs), and the supplies get stretched thinner and thinner. Bailea certainly put in for enough equipment, and we've proven in the past that we can use all they can give us, but we got shorted nonetheless. The wheelbarrow shortage in particular was really slowing us down.

Then Daniel Mercado of the Parks Department showed up to say hi. Danny is manager for the city parkland the Rocky Run is on--and a whole lot more North Manhattan parkland besides, but he still found time to listen to our problems, hear our suggestions, and then he got on the horn with one of his guys, who found us two more wheelbarrows in Fort Tryon that weren't being used--the big plastic kind. Half an hour or so later, the calvary came riding in, and we could finally start making serious progress.

Need a little help there, Max?

"That's enough goldbricking, you two! Back to work!"

Kristen and Kona.

Maggie and Heather (and no, you're not imagining it, the wood chips ARE smoking--heat created by decomposition. Shovel faster!)

Sophie and Augusta.
You'll miss Augusta after she moves away, Sophie--you won't be the only one, either.
"Aw, you didn't have to throw this cool going-away party just for me!"

Are we having fun yet?

One of many little dramas that played out during our labors--Trinity the Smooth Fox Terrier came to the sudden realization that shovels are a deadly menace that must be stopped! Before it's too late!

Mugging Heather for bits of her apple.


The question you always ask is "How do those crazy mutts get us to break our backs shovelling wood chips while they goof off?" And the answer is "Maybe they're not the crazy ones."

I know for a fact that many if not most dog parks in this city that see a lot more traffic get nowhere near as many volunteers as us. We may not have the most amenities, and our restaurant options could be better, but we've got some pretty awesome neighbors. The Heights are alright, and nobody better forget it. Right Max?

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