WANDERLUST: Cleaning up after Bloomsday

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Every year, roughly 50,000 participants gather on the streets of Spokane for Bloomsday. There are many reasons to love this event. It's fast-paced and energizing, and it's awe-inspiring to see so many runners making the trek, volunteers giving their time and spectators gathering in the early hours to freeze their keisters off and cheer.

"Bloomsday isn't just a race," an onlooker on the course told me on Sunday. "It's the hallmark of spring after a long, long winter. A time when our community comes out of hiding and gets ready for the change of seasons."  

And one hallmark of this beloved race? The aftermath.   

As the crowds began to disperse yesterday, I wandered back to my car from the Monroe Street Bridge and caught work crews collecting truckfuls of the clothes left strewn in the trees downtown.

While it's not officially posted on the Bloomsday website, seasoned participants know to wear a warm layer of clothes they plan to shed before the race, leaving them behind as a donation. The collected clothing goes to the local chapter of ARC, and members of the Sheriff's Labor Program are brought on-site to help pick everything up. I can't think of a better win-win situation.

Hats (and clothes) off to another successful year of Bloomsday. 

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Work crews from the Spokane County Sheriff's labor program troll downtown Spokane after Bloomsday filling trailers with donated clothing for the local chapter of ARC.

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Clothing shed on downtown streets by runners is tossed into a trailer by an inmate, serving duty with the sheriff's labor program.

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Literally tons of clothes make the Bloomsday event one of ARC's largest donation drives of the year.

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Collecting used clothing isn't always as easy as it sounds. Inmate crew members find teamwork is often needed to get the job done.

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Runners aren't the only ones who get their exercise on Bloomsday. One inmate loads clothing and takes a rehydrating break.

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A crew member stationed on the roof of the sheriff's truck uses a makeshift hook to retrieve articles of clothing hanging beyond reach in downtown trees. 

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Heading toward the trailer with an armful of Bloomsday clothes, this inmate is all smiles. "It feels good to do good," he says.

ABOUT WANDERLUST: The photo series is a 60-day visual story-telling project that explores the seemingly ordinary places, people and things we experience everyday. It's about being curious and asking questions. It's about wanting to know more about the world around you and seeing it from fresh perspectives. If you have ideas on where I should wander, drop me a line: amyh@inlander.com. 

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