As the COVID-19 crisis shuts down community hubs and events across the nation, one Stillwater tradition has been cleared to continue.
The annual Trash-Off will continue as scheduled, on Saturday, Sept. 26, according to a recent city press release. The event will last from 9 a.m. until noon, and is a friendly team competition focused on community clean-up.
Environmental Programs Manager Chris Franks said he city started coordinating the event in 2006, after the community organization that initiated the contest asked them to take it over. He’s been involved with the Trash-Off since 2012, and said since 2006, the event has averaged about 100 people, and about 150 bags of trash collected.
Individuals wishing to participate in this year’s event should contact his office at (405) 533-8482 by Sept. 21 with the number of people that will be participating from your group. Individuals are also welcome to participate, per the release.
On the day of the event, individuals that signed-up should gather at the Couch Park Pavillion located 1270 E Alcott Drive at 9 a.m., according to the media release.
Franks said although this event is primarily about cleaning up the community, the group that collects the most litter has a prize to look forward to.
“We do have a trophy, a Trash-Off trophy,” Franks said.
The Trash-Off trophy doesn’t look like any ordinary trophy, and has an origin story that commemorates OSU students’ involvement in the event.
“Prior to 2009, we used to let the trophy with them and keep it for a year, and then they would have to bring it back,” Franks said.
Nowadays, Franks said the winners are just photographed with the trophy, and then it is displayed alongside the photograph on city property. The policy change, and colorful new trophy, came after a comical mistake by the winners of the 2008 trash off.
“Well I believe it was 2008, a fraternity won it,” Franks said. “When we went to get it back from them, they said ‘oh, uh… we lost it’. So they made us a new one!”
The new trophy, while perhaps not as polished as the original, is just as prestigious a prize to be won. In addition to the recognition and trophy, Franks said that participating in the event can earn verified community service hours.
Franks said involvement from OSU student organizations is hit or miss, with some years drawing lots of student organizations, and others not having any at all.
“It doesn’t take a lot of time, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to do this,” Franks said. “It’s just something that’s nice to do for the community, and it’s open to everybody.
He said he hopes that people who participate in the community will be propelled forward to do more things for the environment or community.
“This year’s event, like most things this year, is different than past events, and probably will be different than future events,” Franks said.
Due to COVID-19, Franks said the event will not include lunch, or a celebration for the winners, as it ordinarily would, but he hopes the tradition can continue normally next year. So, he said individuals participating in the trash-off for the first time this year should come back again after the COVID-19 crisis resolves, to enjoy the event and it’s traditional ceremonies.