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ALACHUA ‒ Downtown Alachua and Criswell Park were the sites of beautification efforts this past Saturday. The beautification and cleanup event was part of the Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup Day.

Keep America Beautiful (KAB) was formed in 1953 to develop and promote a national cleanliness ethic. Its mission was to provide the expertise, programs and resources to help people end littering, improve recycling, and beautify America’s communities. Much of the focus was on educating the population and bringing more awareness of the growing problem littering and waste. Today, the organization has nearly 700 community-based Keep America Beautiful affiliates, millions of volunteers, and the support of corporate partners, municipalities, elected officials, and individuals

The Great American Cleanup kicked off in 1998 with renewed focus on littering, recycling and community beautification. During the months of April and May an estimated 20,000 communities nationwide hold events where volunteers dedicate a day to cleaning up and beautifying their communities.

The most recent Great American Cleanup created 15,000 opportunities for millions of volunteers picking up millions of pounds of litter, cleaning over 100,000 acres of public spaces, and tens of thousands of miles of roadways and shorelines. The community greening and beautification efforts range from new tree plantings that provide shade and sequester carbon to planting flower gardens that create vibrant gateways to shopping and entertainment districts as well as creating community gardens that help feed the hungry and educate young gardeners.

The City of Alachua has been participating in the Great American Cleanup Day for over 15 years. Each year volunteers dedicate a day to helping clean up and beautify specific target areas. The program is a combination of volunteers, business sponsors and the City of Alachua, including a number of city staff joining in the effort. This year they focused on cleaning up around the Swick House and Criswell Park and planting shrubs and flowers along downtown Main Street.

Close to 70 volunteers met at the City Hall at 8:30 a.m. on May 14 to enjoy a breakfast provided by Mi Apa restaurant and Duncan Donuts. The crews rolled up their sleeves, gathered tools and headed for their assigned areas with the expectation of two to three hours to complete the job.

Downtown Main Street was lined with over 1,000 potted plants provided by Landscapes Unlimited. Owners Mike and Erin Gianikas provided the plants at a discount rate, which was paid for by 20 sponsors that provided services and funding. Landscapes Unlimited also provided staff to help direct proper location, planting and design.

After the work was done and Main Street was boasting new greenery and flowers, volunteers were treated to a lunch by Domino’s Pizza.

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