NORTHERN WESTCHESTER — Groups and individuals armed with orange bags, gloves, litter poles and community spirit took to the streets Saturday throughout northern Westchester to do their part in helping to make the region a cleaner place.
From Peekskill to Pound Ridge, the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day weekend was marked by organized efforts, such as the "Battle of Yorktown" and "Keep Somers Clean," along with homeowners motivated on a sunny spring day to spruce up their neighborhoods.
"You want to have pride in your neighborhood and you want it to look nice," said Gil Jacobson, who has taken part in the "Battle of Yorktown" with his wife, Carole, for about 10 years. "It should be part of all of our responsibility."
Ken Belfer, president of the Mohegan Lake Park District, is also a longtime cleanup volunteer, having donned the orange safety vest for about 15 years.
"This is where I live. It's just such a good feeling when you're done and the streets you live on are immaculate," he said while picking up trash along Lexington Avenue. "It's just amazing how many people drive down roads and throw things out the window."
Raising awareness about the environment for youngsters was also a common theme, as hundreds of Scout troops, such as Webelos Pack 238 and Boy Scout Troop 238 of Shrub Oak, spread out throughout the area to get rid of roadside litter.
Scout leader Stephen Scott said that for the boys, ages 10-16, it was another example of the service they provide to the community.
"We do this every year," Scott said. "Later, we'll be joining the troops from Yorktown at the Grange Fair grounds and we'll compare notes of how many bags of garbage we picked up."
In Somers, Suzy Moravick and Linda Simpson were in the forefront of establishing a Litter Task Force, and the group's first major initiative was getting all residents and businesses to clean up their neck of the woods during Earth Week, from April 14-22. Judging by the spotless roadways in Somers, it appears the task force was successful in getting its message across.
Meanwhile, in Cortlandt, the town held a unique event Saturday to emphasize recycling, called "Give and Take": Residents were invited to drop off items they no longer wanted at the Muriel Morabito Community Center and take away anything that caught their, eye free of charge.
Joe Yatsko of Mohegan Lake brought a bucket of golf balls and some tools that were quickly snatched up, while also finding some goodies for himself.
"I have to go home and bring down some more stuff," he said. "This is a great idea."
"All of this ties in to make our town attractive," added Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi.