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City of Geneva’s “Rain Barrels on Parade”


Jay Womack is the chairperson for Natural Resources Committee of Geneva, a volunteer group created under the umbrella of the City’s Strategic Plan Alliance Committee. Part of the Committee’s mission is to support groups that want to do something to improve general environmental awareness.


“We started Rain Barrels on Parade four years ago as a fundraiser and to get as many rain barrels out there as possible,” he said. “It’s like Cows on Parade for Chicago. Tat first year, we didn’t really know if we would make any money. We met with various merchants in downtown area, and got a good response. All of them were very receptive.“


Jay explained that his Committee members would prime a rain barrel and then it would be sold to a local business at cost.


“Tey would paint it, display it at their business during the summer, and then donate it back to us to be auctioned off at a live auction at the end of the season in September, during the City’s Festival of the Vine.


Most painted them based on some kind of theme for their


store. State Street Jewelers did what looked like an overflowing treasure chest. Glued on a whole bunch of costume jewelry all over it. It looked like a treasure chest overflowing.”


Although Jay’s committee didn’t know if anyone would bid on their barrels that first year, the group was well-rewarded for its efforts. A good crowd showed up at the auction, and some of the barrels went for $400 or $500 a piece. Te Committee made close to $5,000. Subsequent events raised around $3,500 each. “People put their heart and souls into them that first year,” Jay says.


Money from the event has been used to give two $500 scholarships to graduating seniors from Geneva High School who are going into environmental studies. Although the event is taking a year off in 2011, Jay says his Committee is still selling rain barrels. Te Natural Resources Committee meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the Geneva City Hall. Volunteers are welcome.


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