Registration is open for volunteers to clean up the James River on Jan. 31, and brave souls are invited to jump into the frigid waters afterward to raise money for the river’s conservation.
Keep Virginia Beautiful, a non-profit organization, is hosting the event which will consist of a small festival, a community clean-up and a jump into the James—all in the name of preserving Richmond’s beauty.
“Here’s an opportunity for people to see, to take part in, and to be a little more aware of the great resources we have in Richmond and the state,” said Mike Baum, the executive director for Keep Virginia Beautiful.
The clean-up is a volunteer event where groups will be given a 60-minute window and specific locations to find litter throughout Tredegar and Belle Isle.
During the winter season when vegetation is recessed, garbage is more apparent and has a large impact on the aesthetic of the river.
“If you throw a cigarette butt out of your window on campus today it’s going to end up in the James sometime,” Baum said.
Pollution in the James is not limited to garbage, however. Organizations such as the James River Association claim that excess amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment are the biggest impact on the river’s ecosystem and appearance.
The JRA has worked to push legislation that limits these products from entering nature in excess, and there’s been a reduction in the levels of nitrogen in the past decade. Still, removing materials that aren’t biodegradable, such as plastic bottles and aluminum cans, does help to preserve the appearance and quality of the river.
The James River Jump will be a celebratory jump into the icy waters of the river to raise awareness for the beautification of the Commonwealth.
With temperatures now reaching below 20 degrees Fahrenheit at night, the river is sure to be at its most frigid point yet.
“We have some people that are participating in the cle-n up. We have some people that are participating in the jump. We have some people that are participating in both,” Baum said. “When we say jump, like the television commercial says, you can get your feet wet or you can go all the way in. Most people go all the way.”
The Winter Festival will take place before and after the James River Jump, and during the community cleanup. The event is dedicated to keeping volunteers and attendees warm and comfortable, while simultaneously recognizing sponsors who made the event possible.
Registration is required for both the clean up and the jump, alongside a fundraising minimum of $75. The money will be given to Keep Virginia Beautiful and used for the preservation of the natural beauty of the James and surrounding areas.
At noon on the day of the event, the organization will simultaneously host the community cleanup event and the Winter Festival.
While there’s still no confirmed source of entertainment, there will be warm food and beverages provided to all attendees.