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'Happy Trash Day' artist runs for Philadelphia mayor as character Soxx

By
Marilyn Malara

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- A Philadelphia-based artist and creator of "Happy Trash Day" is not running for mayor of her city as herself, but as her whimsical alter-ego, Soxx.

Soxx announced this week her write-in candidacy for the top civil position in the Philadelphia. Her campaign isn't just for fun, either -- Soxx, a creation of Yale University School of Art graduate and craft-master Jenny Drumgoole, has a distinct passion for the city's workers -- especially under-appreciated trash collectors.

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Soxx, a glitter-glue loving character who absorbs much of her inspiration from a grade-school craft book called Make and Do, has launched a vibrant, streamer-laden grassroots campaign.

Soxx is already well-known among the city's trash collectors due to her hosting celebrations for sanitation crews under the banner Happy Trash Day.

Drumgoole, a video arts teacher and avid YouTube user, developed Happy Trash Day, and the character for a few years before recently creating a new Soxx For Mayor channel.

"I thought about [running for mayor] a year ago," Soxx told NewsWorks. "The mayor determines how [city employee] contracts go. It's always unions versus the governments for workers' rights. I figured it'd be nice to have someone who is for the workers on the other side."

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Early last year, Soxx asked Mayor Michael Nutter via video, twice, to grant her a "birthday wish": a contract for trash collectors, who were negotiating with the city.

In 2013, Soxx shared her celebration with NewsWorks, explaining she does it to simply bring trash collectors -- whose weekly and year-round toil in the city's streets goes vastly unnoticed -- joy. "It's the little things that make people happy," she said at the time. "Clearly, this is a little thing, but it's great to make them so happy."

As she says in one video, police and firemen get balls, but, "Have you ever heard of a trash collector's ball? I've never heard of that."

Soxx's Happy Trash Day celebrations consist of handmade decorations, warm food and sweet treats. On designated trash collection days, Soxx dresses up in her best costume and greets trash collectors with a grand smile, dancing and hugs.

Happy Trash Day festivities pop up to show appreciation to workers on multiple routes throughout the city on their trash days. Some employees document their experience on social media.

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"We go block by block, house by house, and it's a tough job, a demanding job," said one collector in 2013. "It feels good to know we're appreciated."

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