RIDGWAY — Dale Fox had been living in Ridgway for only a few years when she decided one spring to do something about the litter and gravel that winter had strewn about downtown.
Armed with a shovel and broom, she started sweeping the sidewalks by moonlight.
Residents and business owners gradually took note of what Fox was doing, and when they decided to lend her a hand, the first Ridgway Heritage Council spring clean-up was born.
More than 20 years later the tradition is still going strong.
“We’ve done it every spring ever since,” said Fox, of the Ridgway Heritage Council.
Fox said volunteers are welcome to participate in this year’s clean-up, which will be held downtown on April 7 and 8 and begin at 9 a.m. She said between 20 and 30 people pitch in across the entire weekend each year.
Fox said when the tradition first started, more than 50 volunteers would participate each year. If there is a lower turnout now, she said, it might be because downtown is cleaner now than it was when the event was first organized.
Fox said she had never volunteered for any cause before moving to Ridgway, and that she thinks volunteering helps individuals take ownership of the places they live.
The event is open to anyone willing to participate, Fox said, and no registration is required, although bringing a rake, gardening gloves and garbage bags is recommended.
“We’ve had kids, we’ve had disabled people,” she said of her volunteers. “It’s really pretty amazing in terms of diversity.”
The plan is to pick up litter, remove refuse from flower boxes and, perhaps most importantly, sweep gravel that that has accumulated by sidewalk curbs. Fox said gravel continues to be the main target of the event.
Fox said keeping and maintaining a “healthy” downtown is a constant challenge, but one that is worth the effort. She recalled that when she first scoured the streets by night, many would stop to thank her for what she was doing.
“It was amazing how many of them would say thank you for making it so beautiful, or show appreciation for what’s being done,” she said. “The impact of beauty on the human spirit is universal.”
The clean-up will be held on April 7 and 8 and start at 9 a.m. It will begin at the welcome center at 300 Main Street.