Pop cans, paper, cardboard and plastic bottles.
What sounds like the contents of a recycling bin was, in fact, not even found in a garbage can.
That’s why on a sunny Saturday this weekend, local businesses joined with Williston residents in an effort to pick up the abandoned trash around the city.
Keep Williston Clean has become an annual event in Williston, where the influx of people and residents in recent years has increased the amount of garbage found in parks on the side of the road.
Its what brought people like Lindsay and Terry Gaudreau out to Hillside Memory Gardens on 26th Street East.
Carrying black garbage bags, the couple scoured the grounds of the park and cemetery, clearing away the remnants of trash from the area.
The Gaudreaus have participated in the city-wide clean up every year. Terry, a Williston native, has lived in the city for 54 years and Lindsay for nine now. They run the local company TNT Fireworks.
“I feel like we should do this every month,” Lindsay said, placing a food wrapper next to a discarded McDonald’s cup in her bag. “It seems like it just keeps coming back.”
On Saturday the clean up began at 8:30 a.m. at Aafedt Stadium where volunteers met and dispersed to different locations. At 1 p.m. the effort wrapped up for a free lunch at Davidson Park.
As with the clean up day last year, several oil companies stepped up to the plate in the effort. Joining the locals and individuals were Statoil, Halliburton, Schlumberger and Weatherford.
Pacific Steel and Recycling was also participating, taking metals and electronics for free at the landfill.
With the blue sky beating down on Williston, volunteers could be found at location in the city, white or black garbage bags in hand, doing the same thing the Gaudreaus were doing—cleaning up the city they live and work in.
Keep Williston Clean isn’t just a chance to spring clean the city, but a learning opportunity as well.
The Gaudreaus plan on bringing their children in the future to help in the clean-up effort, opting to leave them at their grandparents this year.
“We were going to bring our children, but we didn’t think we’d get much done,” Terry joked. “Maybe when they’re older.”
Maintaining the cleanliness after the clean up day will be a challenge for the city but it was a goal Mayor Ward Koeser had in mind when the Clean City Committee was created.
He recognized the increase in people and oil activity, but also saw the opportunity Williston had to move past its dirty oil city reputation around the state.
“If we all do our part to keep the city clean,” Koeser told the Herald on April 20. “We will be one step closer to making Williston the best little city in America.”
Last year’s event was disrupted by the weather but the annual clean up went off without a hitch in 2013.
Many of the volunteers this year could be seen wearing T-shirts given to 2012 participants.
The black shirts read “I will help keep Williston clean” on the front, with the back asking, “Will you?”
Hundreds of people of all ages joined the city-wide clean up last year and the number of volunteers was expected to exceed last year’s effort.