FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – For the last six years, one man has made it his mission to clean all 91 blocks of downtown Fort Wayne. His name is Larry, and many credit him as the person who has made the area a better place to be. It’s not only cleaner, but it’s boosted morale.
“He has always got a smile. He’s engaging. He’s an ambassador for downtown,” Downtown Improvement District’s Bill Brown said.
Larry – who some call “Downtown Larry,” has always been dedicating to doing his best. He cleans 91 blocks every week and collects more than 300 barrels of trash a year.
“A lot of things that he provides for the community he does a lot of basic liter collection, he removes safety hazards, and eliminates graffiti,” Downtown Improvement District’s Frank Howard said.
Coworkers and friends celebrated his last day and new job with the city by having a reception Friday at Red Rok downtown.
“It’s an overwhelming moment for me,” Larry Thomas, Jr. said.
“Larry was the figurehead and the face of downtown. He was always around,” friend Steve Franks said.
“Larry really does represent downtown. It is so clean because of his presence. I can say that I have honestly grown up here and I remember what it was like 5, 10 years ago and now it is beautiful, gorgeous,” Coworker and friend Stephen Bailey said.
When Larry started, they gave him a bucket and golf cart. He developed a plan of how to clean all 91 blocks weekly.
“So, what I did was I treated the downtown like it was my backyard. Whatever I saw that needed work, I took the liberty doing it,” Thomas said.
“You can go blocks and blocks and blocks with your eyes to the ground and you won’t find anything. That’s why everyone calls him Downtown Larry. It’s his job, his heartbeat and we are going to miss him so much,” Bailey said.
Larry says the biggest compliment of all is when others pitch in to help keep downtown looking great.
“It shows that I care and makes them care. That’s more than anything to me,” Thomas said.
Although he’s moving on to take a job with the City of Fort Wayne, “Downtown Larry” won’t be forgotten.
“Downtown is certainly going to miss him,” Howard said.