As the hour hand neared midnight Thursday, jubilant party goers danced in the intersection of Grand Avenue and Second Street while Richie Law’s last song filled the streets for blocks around.

Inside the Laramie Main Street Alliance, Chevy Cheauma and Stephanie Simonson pulled on their gloves, packed up their trash bags and watched people slowly file out of the downtown area.

Cheauma peered out the glass door but said the couple needed to wait a few more minutes before heading out to work.

For the last four years, the Cheauma and Simonson have volunteered to clean up downtown during Laramie Jubilee Days.

“They get pretty rowdy when they see people trying to pick up,” Simonson said. “They start kicking things around.”

The implication is shocking.

Laramie Jubilee Days volunteers must wait for revelers to clear out in order to avoid harassment.

And yet, neither Cheauma nor Simonson expressed sentiments against the event or the participants.

“We have a lot of family members out there, too,” Cheauma said, adding with a chuckle, “I think of it as we’re picking up after our kids.”

Together, the couple has eight children, but only four live at home, he said. Volunteering not only gives them some time alone outside the house, but it makes the downtown a little more enjoyable for their family.

“We like to ride our bikes and go to the Pedal House,” Cheauma said. “By coming out here and picking up the trash, we can make sure our kids don’t pop their tires on broken bottles or have to deal with streets filled with cigarette packs and other trash.”

Laramie Jubilee Days Committee Downtown Chair Kelly Wolfe said she couldn’t ask for a better pair of volunteers.

“They clean the streets until the streets are clean,” Wolfe said. “Sometimes, it could be 2 a.m. Sometimes, it could be 4 a.m.”

For Cheauma, the early mornings can cut into his night-shift sleep schedule at the University of Wyoming Washakie Dining Center. But Simonson said she works the morning shift, and a late night cleaning up downtown could mean little-to-no sleep before her shift.

“I don’t mind,” she said, cheerfully. “Our kids make sure we’re use to our fair share of sleepless nights.”

In addition to Cheauma and Simonson, Wolfe said nightly downtown clean-up efforts are aided by several WyoTech students, who volunteer to earn course credit.

Simonson said the couple got started when they saw a Facebook post requesting volunteers.

“The gentleman who was asking for help ended up moving, so we just took over,” she said.

They come down every night Laramie Jubilee Days festivities are hosted downtown, Cheauma said.

“Fridays and Saturdays — that’s when things get bad,” he said.

As the band loaded their equipment, vendors scrubbed their grills and party goers crowded into the bars, Cheauma and Simonson set to work picking up plastic cups, beer cans and discarded food containers.

“We wipe down the tables, making sure there’s no food on there,” Cheauma said. “And we empty the trash cans and pick up the trash in the street. Sometimes, the vendors just leave their trash on the curb, so we pick that up, too.”

Bent over a planter picking out cigarette butts, napkins and beer cups, Simonson explained her gloves not only help keep her hands clean of the food mess, but they protected her hands from the broken glass the couple often picks up.

“We get a sense of pride out of it,” she said. “We give something back to our community.”

Cheauma walked along the curb pulling garbage out of the gutter and emptying stationary trash cans into his big rolling bucket.

“This is our home,” he said. “This is where we live. We hate to see it trashed all the time.”

As the last late-nighters found their way out of the downtown district oblivious to the people cleaning up the trash trailing behind them, Cheauma and Simonson paused for a moment under a street lamp and smiled at each other.

“We like it,” Simonson said. “It’s quiet. It’s almost like our date night.”

(4) comments

Brett Glass

There's a great way to avoid both the trash and the harassment. Do not hold an event that is centered around, and encourages, the excessive consumption of alcohol -- something which is already a major problem in the state of Wyoming.

Royal Coachman

Great idea. Let's just serve tea. Move it to mid-January. Call it "Laramie Depressing Days."

Problem solved!

Brett Glass

It is, supposedly, a statehood celebration, and thus is scheduled for the second week of July. But what does it say about our state that it is centered around not just the consumption of alcohol, but the excessive consumption of alcohol? The entire downtown area is designated as an "open container" zone, allowing drunks to stumble through the streets with their drinks. And even if one bartender cuts an overly impaired customer off (which, under our overly permissive state law, they are under no obligation to do), the drunk can just stumble on to the next. And then try to drive home. Toward the end of the Brewfest (an event that's done purely for the money -- ironically, by a group which purports to support downtown, but without regard for public safety or the quality of downtown life), it's best to stay off the roads due to the drunk drivers - only a few of whom the police have the resources to apprehend each year. The fact that attendees would attack and harass even a TRASH COLECTOR shows how bad it gets.

waitasec

People get rowdy when trash is being picked up? Volunteers are harassed? That's just pathetic. It sounds like this annual event has become just an excuse for debauchery. But that's OK, because it brings in money.

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