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Over 5000 Volunteers Participate In Los Angeles River Cleanup

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and thousands of volunteers picked up trash, painted over graffiti and worked to spruce up the banks of the Los Angeles River Saturday in what a mayoral aide called the biggest river cleanup in city history.

More than 5,000 people participated in The 22nd annual Great Los Angeles River Cleanup which started at 9 a.m.. Among those scheduled to pitch in were actors Daphne Zuniga, Esai Morales and Sharon Lawrence. Other volunteer groups met at various points along 50 mile river from its headwaters in the San Fernando Valley to where it flows into the ocean at Long Beach.

According to a statement released by mayoral aide Rachel Kruer, it was the "largest river cleanup in the city's history."

"Cleaning up the L.A. River is a worthwhile endeavor that captures the positive spirit of volunteerism," Villaraigosa said. "It's truly inspiring to see how much this river means to the people of Los Angeles."

Organizers were hoping that 25 tons of garbage would be pulled out of the river and its tributaries. In past years, a phone booth, sauna and a car were among the items removed from the river.

In 2007, the city adopted a 20-year plan for revitalizing the river, which is actually little more than a concrete irrigation channel, although for many it remains a dream.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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