Carmel, Fishers portion of White River Cleanup set for Aug. 13


The Carmel and Fishers’ portion of the White River Cleanup will have a new home base this year.

“Conner Prairie welcomed us with open arms this year and gave use of their facilities,” said John Thomas, stormwater administrator for the City of Carmel and Carmel’s representative on the White River Alliance. “They allowed us to have a band because we’re trying to have the river cleanup but transition to more of a river festival atmosphere.”

CIC COM 0727 White River Cleanup

The event will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 13. After the cleanup, volunteers can relax in an on-site shelter while listening to live music and enjoying complementary same-day general admission to Conner Prairie. Typical Summer Band will play from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Thomas said the City of Carmel is partnering with the City of Fishers, Conner Prairie, White River Canoe Co., Carmel PorchFest, Hamilton County Household Hazardous Waste and Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District on the event.

Thomas said Carmel and Fishers have been working on the White River Cleanup for at least 15 years. The event was able to be held last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic because volunteers could socially distance with canoes.

Pre-registration is required to participate, and space is limited. Walk-up registration is not available this year, and personal watercraft should not be brought to the event. Volunteers will sign in at Conner Prairie, board canoes or kayaks, and launch onto the river at 9, 10 and 11 a.m. for a 2- or 6-mile cleanup. A $15 deposit is required to reserve your space on a canoe or kayak. It’s refundable if the person shows up.

Thomas said approximately 100 to 150 volunteers typically participate.

“It speaks to the environmental responsibility that a lot of our citizens feel,” Thomas said. “With the White River Vision Plan, we hope things will continue to take off.”

Thomas said a canoe and kayak are the best ways to remove trash from the river rather than walking along the edges.

“We find tires, washing machines, old motorcycles and kids toys,” Thomas said. “There is a lot less big stuff in the river anymore. We usually get about a ton of trash and 20 tires at least each year. Our numbers go up when we combine it with Noblesville, which usually does it the same day or within a few weeks of us.”

The White River Canoe Co. donated some canoe rentals last year and has become a partner. There are 75 kayaks and 75 canoes available.

“We also cost-share on some canoes,” Thomas said.

Concessions will be available for purchase and volunteers will receive a free White River Cleanup T-shirt while supplies last. Volunteers should wear sturdy shoes and expect to get muddy. Trash bags and gloves will be provided. For registration details, visit