Hundreds of volunteers spent their morning Saturday searching for trash and other debris as part of the Montecito Association’s annual endeavor to spruce up the community.
Armed with latex gloves, picks and trash bags, residents wearing neon yellow T-shirts set out with one goal — to enhance Montecito’s roadways, parks, trailheads and other spots while collecting as much litter as possible.
The cleanups happened during Montecito’s 34th Beautification Day event.
Colorful T-shirts that volunteers wore in past events were displayed to signify its long history in the community.
“It’s a neighborhood community event, where it’s done by the locals for the locals,” said Sharon Byrne, executive director of the Montecito Association. “People living here are the ones who go out and do the cleaning, and make it look great.”
Mike Edwards, who has been a Beautification Day participant for about 10 years, arrived in the Upper Village before the crowd. He set up the event and helped remove trash in the community.
He described the day as “fun.”
“We always get tons of trash, usually around the freeway onramps and offramps, and around the creeks,” Edwards said. “It varies from year to year, but it’s always been a surprise. You never know what you are going to get.”
Locals dispersed to pre-designated locations to clean and beautify zones that need a little extra attention.
Volunteers used orange highlighter pens to mark their cleanup areas on a map of Montecito, a community of about 9,000.
Lower and Upper Manning Park, East Valley Road and the upper San Ysidro Road area were some of the cleanup locations.
For the first time, Aimee Miller participated in the cleanup. She decided to tackle the area near Sheffield Drive and North Jameson Lane.
“That’s typically where I see the most trash,” she said.
Miller, a Montecito Association outreach committee member, moved to Montecito two months before the catastrophic Jan. 9, 2018, flash flooding and debris flows. The deadly disaster, and the December 2017 Thomas Fire that preceded it, destroyed much of Montecito.
“This community has come together and stayed together after our events, and that’s what we love about the community,” she said. “That was the glue, and now we are a solid community.”
Beautification Day is held on the first Saturday in November, and the gathering began as an opportunity to clean up Montecito after Halloween activities, said Houghton Hyatt, this year’s event chairwoman. Volunteers would pick up candy wrappers and other litter on the ground.
The crowd gets bigger every year, and the day is more than just removing unwanted objects.
After the cleanup and beautification efforts were complete, locals met in the Upper Green for lunch and an awards ceremony.