The Herald Bulletin

May 15, 2013

History by the Barrel highlights Alexandria heritage

By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. — Alexandria  calls itself a community in motion. It will be all that on Saturday when local businesses, organizations and individuals chip in to spruce things up around town during the annual CARE Day.

“It’s going to be a fun day, it really is,” said Jeff Bryan, executive director of the Alexandria Monroe Chamber of Commerce. “We’re excited.”

CARE stands for Centralized Alexandria Revitalization Effort. The acronym came into use in the 1980s when a group of local businessmen put their heads together to establish a day to give back to the community. Every spring, CARE Day rolls around with a flurry of activity including planting flowers, painting fire hydrants, sweeping sidewalks and picking up trash.

“It’s a good way to get the community involved in the city, and show some pride in the city we live in,” said Alexandria’s mayor, Jack Woods.

This year, CARE volunteers will also be putting out specially painted trash barrels that celebrate Alexandria’s history.

Locally based tomato processor Red Gold Inc. donated eight barrels for Alexandria’s History by the Barrel project. Local groups painted the barrels with historical themes. Alexandria schools, the Boy Scouts, Alexandria Community Band, Alexandria Historical Society are among those who participated. Themes touch on Alexandria’s musical heritage, glass history, racing, Tigers sports, the interurban and gas history, 4-H fairgrounds, and, of course, the world’s largest ball of paint.  

CARE Day volunteers will vote for their favorite barrel. “The winner gets a pizza party,” said Bryan. All of the clear-coated barrels will be placed around town.

Bryan’s raring to go for Saturday’s event. He’s already got 18 teams signed up. Most teams have five or more people.

“We’re set for rakes and shovels,” Bryan said, after stopping in at an auction lately. He’s prepared to arm volunteers with the tools they need to make downtown Alexandria sparkle. Each volunteer gets a T-shirt, too.

CARE Day participants will work until noon Saturday, when they’ll enjoy a cookout with entertainment from a local Christian band called (second).

Alexandria dentist David Steele was a founding member of CARE Day. He remembers getting together with five or six other business owners one day after a Chamber banquet. They mulled over what they could do to perk things up.

“The downtown needed some decorating,” said Steele. He and his group of business friends launched flower and tree plantings, and much more. “Over the years, we came up with all sorts of projects.”  Steele’s group managed to get the community excited about it, too, promoting a lot of fellowship.

“It wasn’t hard to get people invested in it,” said Steele. “We had a lot of magic.”

Steele continues to take part in CARE Day, now organized by the Alexandria Monroe Chamber of Commerce.

“I’ll be there doing the front of my office,” said Steele. He and his staff will be placing flowers both front and back at his facility. “We do a pretty good job.”

Like Nancy Elliott on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @NancyElliott_HB, or call 640-4805.

If you go

What: Alexandria CARE Day

When: May 18, registration 7:30-8 a.m., work starts at 8 a.m., cookout at noon

Where: Downtown Alexandria