Harpswell Recycling Committee member Bob Eaton loads up trash on John Gilliam Day in 2022. The annual roadside cleanup will return on April 22.

John Gilliam Day, Harpswell’s annual roadside cleanup in commemoration of Earth Day, is April 22.

John Lewis Gilliam started the roadside cleanup because he was proud of and enamored by the beauty of his hometown. As it did the year Gilliam died, John Gilliam Day falls on Earth Day this year.

Gilliam had the idea for a cleanup in the mid-1980s and, with the leadership of Harpswell Select Board member David Chipman, it has been an annual event ever since.

John Gilliam Day relies on volunteers to clean up litter along Harpswell’s roadways in the morning, for pickup by volunteers in the afternoon. Harpswell’s Recycling Committee, Department of Recreation and Community Services, and Conservation Commission assist with the pickup.

Free trash bags and snacks will be available in the morning at three locations: Bailey Island General Store; Holbrook’s General Store, in Cundy’s Harbor; and Uncle Pete’s Community Market, on Harpswell Neck. Volunteers can also use their own trash bags.

After collecting a winter’s worth of litter, volunteers are asked to leave full trash bags on Harpswell Neck Road, Harpswell Islands Road, Mountain Road, or Cundy’s Harbor Road, where volunteers will pick them up and take them to the Recycling Center. Returnable bottles and cans can be separated for donation to the Recycling Center.

Last year’s efforts rid Harpswell’s roads of more than 1,500 pounds of trash, but miles of roads were missed. Organizers hope for a more thorough cleanup this year.