ESSEX, Conn. (WTNH) — “We clip, we weed, we broom, keep things clean,” explained Tommy Crosby, a member of a group that’s a staple on the streets of Essex, a helpful symbol of small-town charm.
“This group is officially known as the Ancient Order of Essex Weeders,” said Tony Carrano, another group member, with a smile.
They’re a well-known group of senior citizens who spend one morning a week beautifying the median strip of a busy thoroughfare.
“A lot of people driving by honk and say thank you for volunteering,” said Carrano, jokingly referred to as the Lead Weed. This former school teacher is about to be 80 years young.
“I wake up usually at 5 in the morning saying, ‘It’s weeders day, it’s weeders day,'” he noted.
He works alongside Crosby, a father of four, with seven grandkids. At 97 years old, Crosby said he enjoys the active, social time out.
They wear a special shirt, honoring the organization’s late founder Bob Swain.
And when 75-year-old Ellen Pfarr joined the group as the first female member, she celebrated with a statement.
“I even had a custom-made t-shirt by my niece,” she stated.
One of the missions of the group is to give back.
“I’m a great believer in volunteering especially in our older years, because all we’d be doing is staying home and falling asleep,” said Carrano.
The weeders also get something back as they prune and water. They get to spend their time in nature, camaraderie, a purpose, and an abundance of gratitude.
After doing the work on Thursday mornings, the weeders said they all head out for coffee. And for anyone interested, they’re always looking for new members.