Frankfort’s Dana Ferracuti recalls the iconic 1970s TV ad with an Indian man shedding a tear because of all the trash on the pitch.
“It was a powerful message,” he said of the Keep America Beautiful ad.
Ferracuti said he himself has shed tears over the years over the trash.
For 15 years, he has been collecting waste all over Frankfurt almost daily. The 63-year-old “is our most passionate resident when it comes to helping keep the village clean,” said Frankfort events coordinator Sue Lynchey.
Saturday was just another day of good work for him as the village celebrated the Earth Day/Tree Day clean-up event. About 125 volunteers scattered around the city to help, including Ferracuti, who was on Center Street picking up litter such as beer cans and vape pens, which he says have increased in numbers in recent years. .
He said he does not pick up litter 365 days a year, but does so frequently.
“I do it whenever I need to,” he said. “All you have to do is drive and watch the roads. The packages are exploding in the environment and nobody seems to do anything about it. It seems that the youngest are no longer in school.
He said kids think that’s how the environment is supposed to be, and they see all the trash and think that’s how it is.
“I try to do my part to keep Frankfort clean,” Ferracuti said. “It’s where I live and, for me, it’s important.”
He recently watched a BBC documentary called “Drowning in Plastic” and is concerned about the environment.
“They went all over the world and trawled a quarter mile and they said the whole ocean was nothing but a toxic sludge of plastic,” Ferracuti said. “They went to Antarctica and found plastic particles in our oceans. You have to realize that modern plastic has only been present in the environment for 40 or 50 years. It could be a disaster.
The Frankfurt event has been taking place for more than two decades. Even at the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, there was a modified version of it.
Former mayor Jim Holland said it was the 23rd time he had taken part. He returned from a trip to Florida last Thursday for a few events, including this one, and returns next Thursday.
“It brings people together to do something to help our planet,” he said. “It’s a very beautiful thing and it’s wonderful to see this village carrying on this long tradition.”
Year after year, no one knows what will be found there. Holland once remembers an old harness for an ox resurfaced in the collection. This year, a group of scouts found an arrow and other volunteers found an unopened bottle of vodka and a car door.
People of all ages are helping.
Ben Borrelli, 9, from Frankfurt, and his sister, Mila, were there.
“It’s a great way to celebrate Earth Day,” Ben said.
Mila made her debut.
“We try to get rid of garbage and plant trees,” she said.
Cub Scout Pack 270 made its annual appearance, this year working the Old Plank Road Trail.
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“It’s good for their community service needs,” said Maura Rigoni, president of the pack committee. “We were able to do it during COVID because we picked a track and socially distanced ourselves.”
Mayor Keith Ogle has done his part over the years and said he was happy to do so.
“We encourage everyone to make this our city and it’s a responsibility for all of us to clean up and everyone can do something,” he said. “It improves the quality of life here.
He said he’s proud that people are getting involved in the city and that various organizations, including Boy Scouts, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club, police, homeowners associations and high school student groups, are taking part.
Lynchey has been hosting this event since 2018 and was happy to see it return to its normal format as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.
“It’s fun to see civic groups come out and individuals who want to do their part to keep Frankfurt beautiful,” she said. “It’s good to see so many proactive people in our city and we’re lucky to have so many people participating.”
Jeff Vorva is a freelance journalist for the Daily Southtown.