ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – We are just days away from kicking off the 49th International Balloon Fiesta. It also means the official cleaning of the metropolitan area.
As thousands of spectators gather to gaze skyward, those same eyes will gaze at the sights around Albuquerque. “We’re trying to get neighborhoods to organize a cleanup in their neighborhood,” said Matt Whelan, director of solid waste.
The Parks and Recreation and Solid Waste Departments are hosting the annual cleanup on Saturday, September 25 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. “We really want to make sure that those who come to see these beautiful balloons also see the beauty of our city,” Whelan said.
They work with neighborhoods to pick up trash and loose items so our customers see the best of our city. “It’s really about teaming up with the people of Albuquerque,” Whelan said.
But it’s not just about cleaning the trash cans. “They come in before we even come in for a cleanup,” Whelan said.
Homeless encampments are also cleared. “Our department is working with Family and Community Services and several other outreach providers to help and clean up these areas,” Whelan said.
Workers from this department will travel to homeless encampments around the city, not only to move them off the streets, but to hopefully find a permanent, safe place to stay and not just during Balloon Fiesta. “To help and clean up those areas, but also to provide services to people who are homeless to see if we can get them into a program and help them get off the streets,” Whelan said.
While it’s important that our home looks good when visitors are in town, the city hopes to make this a permanent state of mind. “We just want to continue to keep Albuquerque beautiful,” Whelan said.
The deadline to register for the neighborhood cleanup has passed, but people can also register to volunteer and clean up at Balloon Fiesta Park on Saturday, September 25. For those looking to report a campsite, they can call the 311 line.