LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined thousands of volunteers hoping to spruce up the banks of the Los Angeles River Saturday.
The 22nd annual Great Los Angeles River Cleanup or "La Gran Limpieza" got under way at 9 a.m. with groups meeting at various points along the 50-mile stretch of the river.
Actors Daphne Zuniga, Esai Morales and Sharon Lawrence were among those expected to pitch in.
"The river cleanup is my favorite day of the year," said author Lewis MacAdams, founder of the Friends of the L.A. River. "In addition to encouraging people to experience the L.A. River in person, it's a great way for people to get to know each other and join in on a great cause. You find yourself side-by-side with a stranger in the morning, a friend by afternoon."
Organizers are hoping that volunteers can pull 25 tons of garbage 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.
"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."
Councilman Bernard Parks says the efforts target areas residents want spruced up and the work sends a message to others, KNX 1070's Ed Mertz reports.
"The message is that nomber one, that there is significant community involvement. Secondly, we just ask the community that as they live day-to-day in their areas, to also take heed to the fact that they can step out of their homes and ensure that their communities are clean," Parks added.
(©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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)
for more features.