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The Monsoon Puppet Theater led a parade down Bullard to the Silver City Farmers Market to get the word out about the Third annual Big Ditch Day, just down the stairs from the Market in the Big Ditch Park on Saturday. Benjamin Fisher/Sun-News

About 200 people went down to the Big Ditch on Saturday for family fun in both arts and sciences focusing on the downtown feature at the third annual Big Ditch Day.

"There are even people who live locally who don't know it's even there," said Lucy Whitmarsh, Board President of the Silver City MainStreet Project, one of the organizers of the event.

Even though the Big Ditch has been in downtown Silver City since the late 1800s, when floods washed away the Main Street of that time and turned it into what it is now, it has never held the attention of Silver City residents the way many would like it to. That's where Big Ditch Day comes in.

"We're celebrating something that nobody else has," Whitmarsh said. "It's part of what makes Silver City special."

The recent rains stayed away for the event but brought clear, clean water rushing by the people celebrating at the shaded Big Ditch Park above the creek.

The day was split evenly between artistic expressions inspired by the Big Ditch and science lessons about the Ditch now and in the past.


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Andrew Lindlof, with the Gila Resources Information Project and the Silver City Watershed Keepers, helped organize the event, as the Information Project were the other big sponsors of the event. Lindlof started the day off at 8 a.m. with a volunteer trash pickup of the often littered creek. Later, he led two water quality monitoring sessions with David Menzie from the New Mexico Environment Department, where kids and adults learned about what one looks for when they measure water quality and all of the state-of-the-art methods environmental scientists use to do so.

"This has been a really good turnout and a really good day," Lindlof said. "This brings awareness not only to the park, but to our watershed and how it all affects us."

There was also an exhibit of interesting junk Lindlof and Tash Cardin found while picking trash up from the Ditch in the last few days - including an office chair, a turntable, and an antique miner's headlamp battery pack.

Volunteers and staff form the Wellness Coalition joined in, painting a mural inspired by the Big Ditch - even letting a little girl draw a smiley fish in the water on the painting.

The Monsoon Puppet Theater led a parade from the Big Ditch Park, down Bullard and through the Silver City Farmers Market, to get everyone excited about the event.

Folks from the Gila Conservation Education Center were at the park too, teaching about bird ecology and inviting visitors to write poetry, with sticky notes, inspired by the Ditch.

Organizers were very pleased with how the day turned out and hope people remember the Big Ditch from now on.

"It's good for people to see what we already have and what we can turn it into," said Whitmarsh.

Benjamin Fisher may be reached at 575-538-5893 ext. 5803