Downtown Elgin bridges to be adorned with red ribbons Saturday
There are about 900 spindles combined on the Chicago Street and Highland Avenue bridges in downtown Elgin -- Gil Feliciano knows because he counted them.
And after Saturday, he hopes every other one will have a red ribbon tied on it.
National Red Ribbon Week starts Friday, and runs through the end of the month. Saturday at noon, Feliciano and the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Elgin invite the public to help tie ribbons on the bridges to raise awareness about the drug problems facing kids in America.
"The red ribbons are a symbolic reminder to people that drugs continue to be a destructive force in the lives of so many people, especially when you're young," Feliciano said. "It's about the kids' lives and their families and it takes the whole the community."
Anyone who wants to participate is encouraged to register online at cshelgin.org to help the organization with social distance planning, but walk-ups are welcome too, Feliciano said.
Red Ribbon Week started after the death of Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, who in 1985 was murdered by drug traffickers he was investigating in Mexico. After his death, people started wearing red ribbons to honor him.
Locally, the week usually includes more personal outreach from organizations.
"Usually, the lion's share of the activities we've done have been in the schools, but you know it's a whole new world this year," Feliciano said.
There's a bigger emphasis on education through social media, using platforms such as Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram to reach young people. They can be found on most social media channels as @CSHElgin.
Other programs include a prescription drug takeback Saturday, noon to 4 p.m., at the circular drive in front of city hall, 150 Dexter Court. People can drop off expired or unwanted drugs to volunteers and police on site. Illegal drugs and paraphernalia can be turned in "no questions asked," Feliciano said. Last year, about 100 pounds of expired or unused drugs were collected.
"With the opioid crisis, part of the problem is that most people don't lock up their medication at home, and most people don't keep an eye on them, especially they're done with them," he said. "So we just kind of want to get it out of the house and into the hands of where it can be disposed of."
CSHE is made up of community members and organizations in Elgin addressing underage drinking and substance use among minors.