KC residents gather together for neighborhood clean-up after Fourth of July fun

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Paul Rojas says Kansas City's Westside neighborhood is the place to be on the Fourth of July.

“There's all kinds of food, people come from all over the city here,” Rojas said.

But the big celebration leaves its mark on the neighborhood.

“Piles and piles and piles and piles [of trash], unbelievable,” Rojas said.

So starting late Wednesday night and continuing on Thursday, neighbors got together to clean up the mess.

“We all start cleaning up, making big piles you know. There's no cars in the street, so it's easy to sweep from curb to curb,” Rojas said.

Clean-up lasted all night and into the scorching hot daylight hours of the following day.

“The taxpayers don`t pay for this. We do. We do our clean-up. We don't depend on the city to come with their sweepers,” Rojas said.

The cleanup effort isn’t easy, he said, but it’s well worth it to keep the neighborhood he knows and loves looking beautiful.

“I was born in this neighborhood in 1934,” Rojas said.

“I know that the people throughout the neighborhood take great pride in putting it back the way it was,” he added.

Nearby, a similar grassroots effort happened in city parks.

“We're seeing a lot of debris,” Dan Wetzel with the Kansas City Parks Department said.

Wetzel supervised a team of employees and volunteers who took on trash in public spaces. The group visited Gillham, Penn Valley and Columbus parks with trash bags in hand, hoping their presence and hard work sends a message.

“When people see all the volunteers who are out picking up and the things, maybe people think twice about leaving things in the park. Not only what it does visually, but how much work it takes to pick that up,” Wetzel said.