MWRD Commissioner Frank Avila presented oak saplings to Eli and Mira Puchtel, pictured with their dad, Max, and younger sister Hannah.

A barrage of wintry weather did not keep community members of all ages from coming out for the City’s annual Earth Day and Arbor Day “Clean up, Evanston!” on April 27. Community partners for this event include School District 65, District 202, Northwestern University, Canal Shores, Friends of the Chicago River, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Downtown Evanston, and the Ridgeville Park District.

Clean-up activities were from 9 to 11 a.m. at locations throughout the City, including Ladd Arboretum and Twiggs Park, Fountain Square, Chute Middle School, Haven Middle School, J.E.H. Education Center, King Arts School and Nichols Middle School. Some community members signed up at to perform self-organized neighborhood park clean-ups, with support from the City in the form of free bags picked up from the Ecology Center.

Several dozen people happily endured the cold to join Mayor Stephen Hagerty at the Clark Street Beach Bird Sanctuary, Clark Street and Sheridan Road, at 10 a.m. to participate in a tree-planting ceremony for a black oak tree. Mayor Hagerty read a proclamation recognizing the day as “Natural Area Day,” and citing the City’s commitment to preserving natural areas in Evanston such as Ladd Arboretum, Perkins Woods, Clark Street Beach and Canal Shores golf course.

The Ecology Center, 2024 McCormick Blvd., hosted free, family-friendly Earth Day festivities, including seed plantings and an indoor farmers market. Attendees were encouraged to bring gently used items to donate to Cradles to Crayons.

MWRD (Metropolitan Water Reclamation District) Commissioner Frank Avila and MWRD Public Affairs Specialist Jan Donovan were on hand at the Ecology Center to present the free oak saplings to attendees and distribute printed materials about the essential services provided by the MWRD.

“We are the largest waste water plant in the world. We treat up to 1.2 billion gallons of waste water every day,” said Commissioner Avila. “We’re living in God’s country. We have our water supply in Lake Michigan. Water is life,” he added.

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.