Alex Hausman and his four-year-old son, Theo, were walking across a shallow area of the Los Angeles River on Saturday morning when they spotted a child-sized mattress floating near the edge.
When a few nearby volunteers saw the find, they lifted the dirty mattress out of the water and onto the pavement next to the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk. Later, it was hauled into a truck bed on top of a few other objects: a shopping cart, a suitcase and several bags of trash.
Hausman was one of more than 100 volunteers who spent Saturday morning cleaning out a portion of the Los Angeles River that runs alongside the newly-completed riverwalk in Glendale. Hausman, a 36-year-old Altadena resident, works in corporate responsibility at the Walt Disney Company. Several other Disney employees also participated in the cleanup event.
Hausman paused at the side of the river to take inventory of his collection.
"A lot of plastic, a lot of Styrofoam, Gatorade bottles, medicine bottles," he said. "But the mattress was definitely the most interesting thing we found."
Volunteers were expected at other portions of the river, including Griffith Park, the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena and Fletcher Drive. Nonprofit organization Friends of the Los Angeles River organized the event. Another annual cleanup event on Saturday, Glendale's Great American Clean Up, sent volunteers across the city to remove graffiti, trash and weeds. Organizers from both events dispatched volunteers to the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk, which the city opened to the public in December. John Pearson, who managed the riverwalk project, estimated that more than 100 volunteers attended the river cleanup at the Glendale portion.
Natalie Curren, 14, said her love of animals was part of her motivation for walking through the river to find trash. The Burbank resident was one of several teens who volunteered at the event.
Curren said she was surprised to find objects like skateboard wheels in the river. "I was expecting to find McDonald's bags or something like that, stuff off the street."
Several employees from the Whole Foods' Glendale store were also found pulling out trash from the river.
John Heart, a team leader at the store, came to the river ready with a walking stick and a straw hat. Heart, who found tent poles and dozens of plastic bags, said it was his first year volunteering at the event.
"I think it's terrific," said the 64-year-old Glendale resident. "I think it's great."