Under the shade of many trees, the father and son duo of Chris and Jack Ryan stood on the bank Saturday of Dry Creek, which runs through Cortland’s Suggett Park, raking tree brush and other debris.
The two, and 13 others, all part of the Cortland Community Service Club, worked Saturday morning to help clear the creek as a service to the community, said Doug Gilbert, the co-chairman of the Corn Ducky Derby.
“We’ve got a good start,” he said. “It’s going pretty well. I’m optimistic we’ll get it cleared up today.”
The derby, which is sponsored by the Cortland Community Service Club, is usually held in May each year in the creek, Gilbert said.
This year, because of COVID-19, it had to be rescheduled to an event that people can only attend virtually on Sept. 26.
And while workers from the city usually clean on the banks of the creek each year for the derby, staff cuts and furloughs because of the pandemic prevented that from happening.
That led Gilbert to get the idea to have the club clean it up, even if people won’t be able to attend.
“We can volunteer our time and efforts to do something for the community,” he said.
Those helping out agreed.
“It’s been fun so far today,” Chris Ryan said. “It’s a nice day and it’s a good excuse to get out.”
Chris Ryan, who was there with his 17year-old son Jack Ryan, said that he was disappointed that the event had to go virtual this year to protect the safety of visitors which Gilbert noted can range from 500 to 1,000 — but understood why it had to be changed.
Club member David Jones said he was having a good time getting out and exercising, as well, through clearing tree limbs and brush.
“Even though we’re not going to use it, it’s not a bad idea to clean it up,” he said.
Gilbert hopes there will be enough water to host the upcoming derby in the creek, though judging by Saturday’s conditions which were bone dry — he was unsure if that would happen.
He has a backup plan in place to have the derby take place in the Cortland Fire Department’s portable pond in the park and draw winners that way.