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Well, not entirely. But when Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar ceremonially signs the final plan for the rehabilitation of the National Mall tomorrow afternoon, he will stand beside two people: Chip Akridge, local real estate mogul and chairman of the Trust for the National Mall, and Steve Callihane, president of Coca-Cola refreshments. Why does Coke get top billing? The company, through a partnership with the National Park Foundation, is kicking in $50,000 to start a recycling program as the rest of the restoration gets underway. The press conference will even be followed by a “Recycling Bin Activity” with Coke representatives (aluminum can jump-shot competition?).
According to a Coke spokeswoman, the new recycling bins will include no Coke branding, so this may be the only chance the company has to get some recognition for its generosity. Good thing, too. Although private funding for public parks was requested in the Bush administration and is becoming commonplace around the country—New York even has a price list—I’d venture that Coke logos on the Mall would spell the doom of American civilization.