When it was first announced a few weeks ago, my little campaign team agreed we’d participate in the CRC Streams Clean Up at Deshong Park in Chester. CRC represents the Chester – Ridley – Crum Creeks that flow through this part of Delaware County. For the last 23 years, this organization rally folks to join in and clean the areas these creek run and yesterday was Chester City’s turn to clean the area around Chester Creek in Deshong Park.
I found the event to be unusual in several ways. First, I’ve never been in Deshong Park besides the portion you can see from Avenue of the States. I know it’s an 18-acre property, but I’ve only seen about 2 or 3 acres of it. That all changed yesterday.
Next, although labeled a clean-up, not many people will notice Deshong Park got cleaned up because very few people go on the property. Although called a park, there’s nothing there but an old abandoned museum and old trees shedding tons of leaves and branches.
Next, the people that showed up to clean the park didn’t look like the type of people who normally come together to pick up trash. There was U.S. Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon; PA State Senator John Kane; Delaware County Councilwoman Elaine Paul Schaefer; Brian Eury and Laura Goodrich Cairns – Chairman & Executive Director respectively – of the Delaware County Industrial Development Authority; Lisa Gaffney of ‘everything’ including Executive Director of the Riverfront Alliance of Delaware County; Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland; Chester City Councilwoman Portia West; and the Receiver assigned to Chester, Michael Doweary. There were a few aides and photographers and my crew of Marcy, Kenny, Todd and my social media guy Robb.
After opening comments from the folks from CRC and Mayor Kirkland, we split up into four groups and went to work for a scheduled 2-hours, which ended up being closer to 3 hours. My group started right behind the museum and we tossed about 4 mattresses right away. We filled bag after bag of bottles, cans, and paper. We quickly found that the back side of the building serves as a full bathroom and avoided as much of that area as we could. As we worked our way down the hill, it was obvious we had stumbled on a few encampments where people live in the park. In some ways I felt like I was evicting people I didn’t know and couldn’t see.
As the different groups crossed paths, we talked about what we experienced, what we found, how beautiful the space could be, and a funny story here and there.
A lady walked up to me and unfolded a $20 bill she found while cleaning. She offered to contribute it to the Roots For Chester campaign and I gladly accepted it. Someone quickly blurted out that we’ll consider that a donation from Alfred O. Deshong himself.
The funniest moment of the day had to do with the toilet that was found in the shrubs. It was brought back next to the dumpster when someone said Sen. John Kane found the toilet. Another person quipped – ‘It would take a plumber to find a toilet, huh?’
If you didn’t know, the Delaware County Industrial Development Authority has authority over the park and all those political folks gathered in Deshong on Saturday had a lot of cross talk with each other on what the best use of the park should be. Many, seeing the area for the first time, were absolutely stunned at the potential.
The greatest highlight for me was spending time with Senator John Kane and getting to know him a bit. I will confess, during his campaign, my buddies and I were wondering about that guy, but everyone who knew him kept saying what a great guy he is. After spending time with him, I’m sold. Senator John Kane is the man.
And, if I were to select a MVP for their performance yesterday, the winner, without a shadow of doubt, is Senator John Kane. This dude went where no man or women dared. There’s a lot of thorn bushes in the park and as much as we all wanted to clean certain sections, it was impossible to get to without first clearing the thorny bushes. John Kane threw up his hoodie and went straight in. He started tossing items out above the shrubs and kept going in so deep we started begging him to come out. When we finally got him out of there, his clothes, from head to cuff, were full of broken off thorns.
Somebody go over to Sandrose and get that man his trophy.
Most people will never see the full impact of the great work done Saturday at Deshong Park by a bunch of political big-wigs from around the county, but I want you to know a few of us around here appreciate the effort and thank you dearly.