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Spring Clean-Up comes to Webster City today

Traditionally, Memorial Day signals the beginning of summer, although technically it’s still spring.

In Webster City, the unique local tradition of Spring Clean-Up typically follows closely behind, and this year is no exception. The event takes place in the Webster City Middle School parking lot today and Saturday.

Today it runs from noon to 4 p.m. It’s from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

Best of all, once more this year, the convenient “drop-off” format will be in use. Just drive in, open your trunk, and let volunteers empty your car.

What other town on the Iowa prairies, dear reader, has drive-in spring cleaning?

Whether you call it spring cleaning, deep cleaning, or even decluttering, the ritual has an interesting past. To be thought careful and observant to the laws of God, Jews in Biblical times thoroughly cleaned their homes before the spring rites of Passover, especially the kitchen.

Roman Catholics across Europe traditionally cleaned their homes, and the altars of their churches, each year during Holy Week, the time immediately before Easter.

Anyone growing up on a Midwestern farm 50 to 60 years ago didn’t need a list of cleaning projects performed each year as days began to lengthen and weather warmed. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, a book of practical household hints for farm families published in 1877 in Minnesota, suggested the best place to start was the parlor. This room, closed except for Sunday afternoon visitors or whenever “company” came, was full of fancy, upholstered, often overstuffed chairs and couches. These needed a good dusting.

The carpet — in a modest farmhouse the parlor might be the only room so-equipped — had to be taken out, beaten, and hung on the line or porch rail for “sunning.” The feather duster got a work-out on pictures, door and window frames, and other woodwork. Windows were washed with a solution of white vinegar and water, and buffed with old newspapers (another good way to recycle today’s paper when you’ve finished reading it!). Feather beds, too heavy for warmer weather, would be shaken, beaten and aired, before stowing away against next winter’s cold.

Today, when so many of us have simply accumulated too much “stuff, “ spring is the ideal time to let go of those things we no longer need, use or want.

Donate usable household items to one of Hamilton County’s eight food pantries, a charity of your choice, or join your neighbors in a neighborhood garage or yard sale.

For items that don’t meet that standard, put them in the car and take them to this weekend’s clean-up. There are only a few rules, beginning with what will and will NOT be accepted.

ACCEPTED at spring clean up:

• household furniture

• grills and lawn furniture

• scrap metal

• exercise bicycles and equipment

• major and small appliances

• microwave ovens

• mattresses and box springs

• carpets and carpet pieces

• computer towers

• box and ceiling fans

• miscellaneous household items

NOT accepted at spring clean up:

• propane tanks and cylinders

• larger amounts of building materials

• nothing with liquids (paint cans, oil cans, etc.)

• hazardous materials

• yard waste (leaves, grass clippings, branches)

• regular household garbage

• gun ammunition or fireworks

• tires

• computer keyboards and monitors

• computer printers

• FAX machines

• televisions

• batteries (any size or type)

• concrete blocks, bricks or rocks

• roofing materials

• nothing containing asbestos

• animal carcasses

• medical “sharps” (used needles, syringes, etc.)

If, after reading this list, you’re unsure whether an item can be accepted, ask one of the volunteers at the Middle School for clarification. Please be aware the City of Webster City reserves the right to refuse any item brought to the event it considers inappropriate.

Finally, Spring Clean Up day is open ONLY to residents of Webster City. You may make more than one trip if required.

The event is free — an unbeatable value in spring cleaning.

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