Photo Information

Marines with 1st Marine Division move slabs of concrete from a pathway at Riis Park in Chicago May 12, 2009. Marines are cleaning up parks as well as taking part in other community services and efforts as part of Marine Week being held in Chicago. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Seth Maggard/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Seth Maggard

Marines, West Side Community clean up Riis Park

12 May 2009 | Cpl. Seth Maggard

Marines from the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 1st Marine Division made playing at the park a whole lot safer, as they repaired a pathway and flagpole at Riis Park here Tuesday, continuing community outreach efforts as part of Marine Week Chicago.

The park, located in Chicago’s West Side seemed to be in fair condition with the exception of a few problem areas. The major concern for the Marines was the park’s broken up pathway, which led from the parking lot, circling a flagpole, and encompassing a playground. Potholes, large cracks, and old wood chips posed as possible dangers for patrons.

The Marines arrived in true fashion, with a plan and the tools to accomplish it. They immediately began tackling various tasks which included breaking up concrete, stacking bricks, picking up trash, and arranging wood chips.

Cpl. Scott B. Wyatt, a combat illustrator for the 1st Marine Division’s Combat Camera unit, contributed by painstakingly breaking up slabs of concrete from around the flagpole.

“This is an excellent opportunity to visit other places around the nation as well as give back to the various communities,” said Wyatt, a 22-year-old Indiana native. “I can only hope this inspires the local community to maintain the park’s upkeep in the future.”

The Marines were treated to a pleasant surprise as children from a nearby neighborhood joined in the activities by stacking bricks and offloading a truck full of bricks and gravel.

“I really liked that I got to help the Marines with their job today,” said Matthew Harper, an 8-year-old Riis Park resident, while enjoying a snack with the Marines after finishing his work.

Harper’s mother accompanied him to the park to help the Marines.

“I’ve never thought the Marines could make time for this. Many projects out here are dropped due to budgeting problems. It’s a nice surprise to see Marines of all people getting jobs done so quickly,” said Loretta Harper, a 50-year-old native of Chicago.

The Marines continued the beautification process by adding mulch and wood chips to nearby tree bases as well as filling in holes in the pathway’s concrete. Marine Corps running cadence erupted from the workers as they kept high spirits well into the warm afternoon of manual labor.

The Marines are scheduled to continue their contributions to the Chicago community through service projects as well as visiting local high schools throughout the week.

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