Tom Ross: This column is plain filthy

City government asks residents to do the unthinkable

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April Poop Day was no Easter egg hunt in the park. However, those of us who showed up Saturday morning can at least hope our efforts will make the traditional rite of spring more pleasant for the kiddies this week.

What can you say about the first ever "Festival of Dog Poop" hosted by the city of Steamboat Springs over the weekend?

Thanks to the efforts of the city's Parks and Recreation Department staff, it was a pretty crappy event. The idea was to persuade residents to join together in civic fervor to rid our parks of the nasty pet waste that accumulated throughout the winter. It was a good idea, and I can't wait until next year when we get to do it all over again. Saturday dawned gray and foreboding with a stiff wind howling out of the East. It was the perfect day to throw on your oldest sweatshirt and head down to Whistler Park, bent on filling a trash bag with dog waste. Walking down to the park, I looked over my shoulder and noticed the wind had prevented the gondola from opening.

"Just my luck!" I muttered under my breath. "With the option of going skiing eliminated, everybody and his brother are going to show up to volunteer for April Poop Day. My chances of winning a door prize have been dashed. Even worse, there may not be enough poop to go around!" I needn't have worried. Even with the presence of a desiccating wind that quickly fanned away any offending odors, only five of us showed up for dawn patrol. And that number included the nice lady from Parks and Rec with the clipboard and giant orange trash bags.

It was quickly apparent who the pros in our little outfit were. Ray and Sheila Wright came equipped with his and hers, two-piece stainless steel pooper-scoopers.

"Where is everybody?!" Sheila harrumphed. "I know some people who ought to be here."

Consider yourself forewarned.

My own gear was more homespun, but no less effective than Sheila's -- a drywall bucket and a short garden shovel with a straight edged blade. I like to refer to the shovel as "Old Turd Buster." We've been together through many a campaign.

Upon arriving at the command post, my first impulse was to look to see if the City Council had provided us with properly calibrated scales for the big weigh-in at the end of the morning. To my chagrin, there were no scales at all, and I realized this was not that kind of event. This was no professional bass fishing tournament, and Steamboat's glitterati were all over at the base of Headwall drinking Bloody Marys in preparation for the Cardboard Classic (I hope you all choked on your celery).

Grim faced, we hunched our shoulders into the wind and fanned out across the park. There wasn't a great deal of conversation. What was I going to say? "Hey Ray! I found another beauty!"

When finally our labors were through, our hostess offered each of us a bagel. There were no takers. But I have a suggestion for next year. I think more people would show up for April Poop Day if the city gave each participant a medal. I'm picturing a round enamel pin emblazoned with the city's snowflake/spur logo circled by the words "Poop Patrol."

Seriously folks. I'd like to see more of you out in the park next year. I understand attendance was better at Stehley Park and Spring Creek, but the bottom line is people need to pick up after their pets. The city provides heavy-duty plastic bags at the entrances to parks and at trailheads for this very purpose. Use them.

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