LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A local park was left a mess, and a group of 5-year-olds were left to clean it up.

Pint-sized volunteers picked up loads of garbage Monday morning.

"We came to the park and it was completely trashed," said Faith Ashton, a kindgergarten teacher at Whitney Young Elementary.

It is tradition every year for kindergarteners at Whitney Young Elementary School to come to Shawnee Park to play. This year, the children spent much of their playtime picking up trash. No complaints though, as teachers say the kids actually enjoyed cleaning up.

"We were just really excited that they were excited about it," said Amanda Burt, another kindergarten teacher.

With gloves on and trash bags open, students picked up food bags, bottles, bottle caps and even a tire.

"To hear that there are elementary school kids picking up trash to help us out, that's exciting news," said Marty Storch, the Deputy Parks and Recreation Director who said it was a big weekend with a parade ending there.

He says he is disappointed people chose to litter.

"We want people to think about, just as these kids thought about, protecting public assets," Storch said. "That's what these parks are. They're public assets. My staff alone is not going to be able to do it."

The trash is not the only problem. Metro Parks has received several complaints about tall grass, like at Blue Lick Park.

"When you have over 120 parks and over 5,000 acres to mow and over 300 restrooms to tend to, it's impossible to get everything mowed in one week," Storch said.

Storch says rain has not helped, either. Not only is it feeding the grass, it is stopping crews from mowing.

"What really gets tough in the spring time is when you have basically 20 out of 25 days of rain, you do get behind," he said.

Crews were cutting at Shawnee Park on Monday and picking up the rest of the trash. 

But the park is lucky to have little hands helping out in a big way.

"The goal is that this would not be just something academic they learn, but character-building as well," Burt said.

"Maybe the next time they come with their family, they'll say, 'We can't leave it like this, we've got to clean it up,'" Ashton said.

If you are interested in volunteering to keep Louisville's parks clean, call (502) 574-PARK.

Metro Parks is offering future outdoor recreation opportunities in west Louisville May 31 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Whitney Young Elementary School. The West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative envisions several things, like developing infrastructure in west Louisville that would help support outdoor programs, including cleaning up the pond in Chickasaw Park for safe fishing, providing access to the Ohio River for boating and canoeing and areas for nature play and exploration, according to parks officials.

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