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Published: Wednesday, 6/16/2004

City songsters hit streets with brooms, maps

Attention litterbugs, local business owners, and lost tourists: The Courtesy Corps is returning to duty.

The singing clean-up crew, a collection of youths ages 15 to 20 with arguably the most unusual summer job in Toledo, will hit the streets tomorrow armed with brooms, maps, and leaflets promoting the downtown area.

Covering an area bordered by Jackson, Monroe, Summit, and Ontario streets, this year's quartet will sing, dance, and sweep their way through the summer until Aug. 13, their third performance in as many years.

"It's totally unexpected," said Julie Hartten, Downtown Toledo Inc.'s special events manager. "People come to downtown Toledo, they're trying to get to a certain destination, and they see this group of youth singing and dancing. It puts a smile on their faces."

So will the corps' spin-off tunes, organizers hope. This year's garbage-themed music is gleaned from such classics as "In the Jungle" ("In Toledo," it's called) and "Somewhere over the Rainbow" ("Somewhere in Toledo").

Corps performers often compose their own songs, at first with help from the Performing Arts School of Metropolitan Toledo, but soon take the reigns over their own performances.

"They have to have a strong personality and be very self-motivated," said Tasha Rothaway, a music teacher at the performing arts school who helped establish the program. "There isn't a lot of direct supervision, and they have to be willing to work one-on-one with people."

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