The Cedar River, which flows right through Waterloo, needs your help. For the past 33 years, Iowa’s longest running river cleanup has fished an insane amount of garbage and litter out of the river thanks to the help of dedicated volunteers in the area. This event does not seem to be losing momentum as it will be back yet again for the 34th year in a row this Saturday, July 24!

The Cedar River Festival Group is the collection of amazing volunteers that work to keep the waters of Waterloo trash free and advocate for water preservation, and you can join them this Saturday to help fulfill that mission! The group uses canoes to patrol the waters and fish up anything that doesn’t belong like tires, mattresses, and even toilets have been found during past years. Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own canoe or kayak, but no worries if you don’t have one. Lucky for you the group will provide canoes and life jackets to those who don’t personally own one. Make sure you sign up early on the Cedar River Festival Group’s Facebook page to help ensure that there are enough canoes for everyone!

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Volunteers will be instructed to meet at 8:00am at Deerwood Park in Evansdale to register if they haven’t done so already. There will also be a brief safety meeting before being bused to a starting point of the cleanup route. From there, you will paddle back three miles to Deerwood Park and pick up any litter they can find along the way. Trash bags will be provided for the cleanup and lunch will be available as well but make sure to bring your own bug spray to ward off mosquitos in this humid July weather. Volunteers are also encouraged to bring plenty of water as the cleanup will take three or four hours.

Once the cleanup is complete, volunteers are encouraged to select their favorite item found in the river. Then, as a group all together, a vote is taken to see which piece of junk is the most unique. Kristin Guess, a longtime board member of the organization, says,

“A toilet won two years ago, but typically we pull tons of tires out of the river every year, and we’ve seen car parts, bicycles, random metal pieces, lots of bottles and cans. Each year there is at least one mattress. We recycle as much as we can.”

Following the cleanup on Saturday, a music festival will be held to celebrate all your hard work from noon to 7:00pm at Gateway Park in Cedar Falls. This is completely free of charge so bring you friends, family, neighbors, whoever you want, everyone is welcome!

Again, make sure to register ahead of time on the Cedar River Festival Group’s Facebook page to reserve a canoe if needed!

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