After gathering at City Hall at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21, this wave of local humanity fanned out across the city.
Mayor James Davis and City Council members joined in the effort, and though the day was dreary, there was nothing but a positive attitude.
The first “Feet to the Street” community cleanup of the newly formed Beautify Bayonne group lasted about three hours. Much of the city saw volunteers with their broomsticks, shovels, and bags.
Organizers were heartened by a teen contingent they said was at least 75 strong.
“I feel it’s important to clean the environment and have a better place to live for the community,” said Patty Cresseveur of 6th Street. She participated with boyfriend Tom O’Donnell and his daughter Katlyn O’Donnell.
“We need to make it a better place, so everyone can stay happy,” Katlyn O’Donnell said.
“We need to keep America beautiful,” said Tom O’Donnell. “I think we should do it every month. I would do it.”
Heather Piechocki was there at the post-cleanup picnic at Gorman Field with her husband, Christopher and children, Jake, 7, and Ella, 2. Christopher was one of the event planners.
The family had lent a hand at Garretson Avenue, and 4th and 2nd streets, and were ready to have a little fun. Heather said the day’s activities were merely a confirmation of what she had been teaching her children at a young age.
“From when they were toddlers, we always taught them about cleaning up and taking care of things,” she said. “If they see things on the street, even my two year old, they say, ‘Let’s pick it up.’ They know it has to be in the garbage.”
“We pick it up because we don’t want it on our property,” said Jake. “We do it to support Bayonne.”
Dr. Mary Dunlap-Beales believes the event was the right step in the right direction.
“I think the only way the town is going to turn around is through a grassroots effort,” she said. “Instead of being part of the problem, we can be a part of the solution.”
Dunlap-Beales pointed to the Feet to the Street and upcoming Bergen Point Fall Festival as two initiatives that have people feeling good about the city and taking stock in it.
“I think it means that people are starting to have pride in Bayonne again, and the better the pride in this town, the more people will want to move in and the more it will attract businesses,” she said.
Davis said he was 100 percent behind the movement, and that residents would continue to receive City Hall’s support.
Many of those participating in the day’s activities were local artists who exhibited their work during the summer at a one-day show at All Fit Studios, which served as an unofficial kickoff for the cleanup. The artists said that their event worked in tandem with the cleanup to make Bayonne a more attractive city to live in, work in, and visit.