By Dan Herbeck
It takes a lot more than howling, bone-chilling winds, icy temperatures, sleet, snow and hail to deter the Buffalo Newspaper Guild’s Bonfatti Cleanup Team.
Seventeen Guild members and friends braved some very nasty weather on the morning of April 20 to take part in the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper’s shoreline cleanup project.
We spent a couple of hours picking up carelessly discarded trash from the Ohio Street Boat Launch Park and the nearby Father Conway Park in Buffalo’s Old First Ward, along the Buffalo River.
An old tire, countless scraps of styrofoam, cans, bottles, bottle caps, broken glass and items best described as ‘unmentionables” were scooped up and put into bags by Guild volunteers.
It was our second annual cleanup effort in honor of the late, beloved Buffalo Guild leader John “Jay” Bonfatti, who truly enjoyed camping and hiking in the outdoors.
“Jay would be proud,” said Guild volunteer Phil Fairbanks, who was one of Bonfatti’s closest friends. “But he also might have rolled over and gone back to sleep when he saw this weather.”
The hardest part of the job was keeping your garbage bag from blowing shut or blowing away when you tried to stuff some trash into it, said volunteers Sharon Cantillon and Barbara O’Brien.
Volunteers Gene Warner and Melinda Miller said they couldn’t believe that people could be so thoughtless as to dump old tires and an old TV set in riverside parks.
The cleanup work definitely made a marked difference in the two parks. Everybody worked hard, and managed to have quite a few laughs, even as the winds howled past us at almost 40 mph.
Volunteer Matt Gryta was resplendent in his rubber hip boots. Energetic former Guild member Bud Anzalone proved to be a big asset.
“Bud can dart in and out of little nooks and crannies that a bigger person could never reach,” said volunteer Jay Ray.
In addition to those already mentioned, the volunteers included Dan Herbeck, Lou Michel, Kevin Cassock, Mike Miller, Sue Schulman, Andy Dando, Donn Esmonde, Steve Watson and Scott Scanlon.
Riverkeeper officials thanked the Guild for its help. Nearly 1,100 volunteers took part in the Riverkeeper event that day, working in dozens of parks along local waterways.
The Bonfatti Cleanup Team will take part again next spring, hopefully in nicer weather!