QUINCY – Tom O’Brien, of Quincy, found a small piece of trash at Caddy Memorial Park in Quincy where there was a sign saying ‘avoid’.

“We should put it on a stick and put it somewhere so people know not to litter here,” he joked, tossing the debris into a trash bag.

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About 15 years ago, O’Brien noticed litter all over Wollaston Beach while jogging. So he started cleaning periodically, which turned into a decade-plus effort.

“It’s amazing to see the place much cleaner now,” he said.

Chris Towler, left, and Sean Carpenter, both of Quincy, bring barrels of mulch to a planting bed at Merrymount Beach in Quincy during the annual citywide Quincy Cleaner Greener cleanup on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

O’Brien and more than 1,500 volunteers joined forces for the 33rd annual Quincy Town Cleanup on Saturday, May 7.

Paul Doherty, program manager for the Quincy Parks Department, estimated that more than 50 groups registered for the event.

Volunteers gathered at several locations around the city, including Quincy High School, Butler’s Pond and Merrymount Beach to pick up trash from 9 a.m. to noon.

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“It’s a general way to spruce up the city, and it’s a great way to kick off spring and summer in Quincy,” he said.

The cleanup event has been scaled back for the past two years due to the pandemic.

“We hope to bring him back with full force,” he said.

Anya Tittel, 9, helps her father, Jan Tittel, of Quincy, place trash in a bag as they clean up behind Quincy High School during the town's annual Quincy Cleaner Greener on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

Many of the groups that participated have been protecting the local environment for years.

Maureen Mazrimas, representing Friends of Wollaston Beach, said they have been protecting Wollaston Beach’s ecosystem for decades.

“We found a safe, a refrigerator and even an inflated raft,” she said.

Beverley Anderson of Quincy trims shrubbery at the Souther Tide Mill in Quincy during the annual citywide Quincy Cleaner Greener on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

North Quincy High School student Natalie Chan was helping 20 of her classmates check in for the event.

Chan is a member of the ROTC/Aerospace Science program. The group has been involved in the cleanup for years. They cleaned the north end of the beach a week ago.

“We would love to help improve the city’s environment,” she said.

Shuan Chen, of Quincy, rakes the outdoor classroom at Clifford Marshall School in Quincy during the annual citywide Quincy Cleaner Greener on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

Six-year-old Naiya Wooten ran through the woods

“She just wants to take her shoes off and get in the water every year we’re here,” her mother, Nicole Cincotta, said.

Her brother, Jeremya Wooten, 9, helped her mother pick up a trash bag.

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The Holbrook family has participated in the cleanup every year since the death of Cincotta’s father, Anthony Cincotta in 2013.

“My dad used to help clean up every year,” she said. “It’s a nice way to pay homage to him, even though we’ve moved away from Quincy.”

Amy Bacchieri of Quincy plants flowers at the entrance to Merrymount Beach during the annual citywide Quincy Cleaner Greener on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

Officials also lent a hand. Norfolk County Sheriff Patrick McDermott was with a team of 15 clearing the area around the Wollaston Beach Visitor Center.

The group picked up several bags of garbage in an hour.

“We did a great job because everything is clean,” he said. “It’s a great way to engage with our community in addition to our day-to-day work at the resort.”

Kevin Geary, left, and his son, Grayson Geary, 6, of Quincy, clean up the Merrymount Beach shoreline during the town's annual Quincy Cleaner Greener cleanup on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

A volunteer appreciation barbecue, sponsored by Mayor Thomas Koch for the first time since the pandemic, was held at Pageant Field. Volunteers were greeted with burgers and hot dogs.

“Without the work of volunteers, this program will never succeed,” Doherty said.

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Contact Hongyu Liu at [email protected]