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Statewide park cleanup a tradition at Cedar Point in Clayton

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CLAYTON — Volunteers gathered across the state for the third annual I Love My Park Day, cleaning, improving and beautifying state parks and historic sites Saturday.

A group of volunteers did the same at Cedar Point State Park, but for them, this wasn’t year number three.

“Add a zero onto that three,” said Sean P. McHale, Carthage.

To the best of the volunteers’ memories, they’ve been conducting their own cleanup for 30 or more years.

Ralph F. Hanley, Brewerton, has been leading the charge for approximately the last 20 years, and was joined by fellow members of local chapters of Family Campers and RVers.

“We enjoy doing it,” Mr. Hanley said of what keeps him returning year after year.

The cleanup at Cedar Point consisted of a lot of raking and yard-work type duties, with a surprisingly small amount of litter.

“People are more aware of that now,” Mr. Hanley said. “They take better care of it.”

First-time participants Girl Scout Troop 50361 joined the veteran volunteers after seeing the invitation for the event sponsored by Parks & Trails New York and the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The girls, 14 first- and second-graders from Alexandria Central School, Alexandria Bay, were compelled to volunteer as they hold a four-day day camp approximately 12 miles down the St. Lawrence River at Grass Point State park each year.

Saturday’s weather was mild, but throughout the years the group has dealt with cold or stormy conditions.

William E. Matier, Ontario, has been volunteering for about 12 years, and credits Mr. Hanley with continuing to keep the group inspired and returning.

“Ralph’s been instrumental,” Mr. Matier said. “Every year, just like clockwork, even though sometimes it was downright miserable.”

Mr. Hanley counts more than 50 years of membership at various chapters of Family Campers and RVers, which promotes recreational family-type camping throughout North America.

For more information about benefits and membership, visit www.fcrv.org.

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