Come for the trash, stay for the membership in a secret society! Baltimore’s beloved Mr. Trash Wheel is giving devotees the chance to prove their worth by opening membership in the (not exactly) exclusive, (not quite) secret society, the Order of the Wheel.
For the first time since 2019, applicants can pledge their allegiance to the Wheel and demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship by organizing a neighborhood clean-up of some sort. It could be in their own neighborhood or a local stream, park, or waterfront, and they must submit a photo as proof. Mr. Trash Wheel judges the worthiness and veracity of said stewardship, and if the applicant passes muster, they are admitted to the Order of the Wheel. Hopefuls can apply online here.
Should you be deemed worthy by Mr. Trash Wheel, you’d be inducted into one of four Trash Wheel “houses:” Turtleroar, Rattypaw, Otterfluff and Snekerin. You’d also receive a pin, a secret code name, a certificate, info on the secret handshake, members-only communications from Mr. Trash Wheel himself, and instructions on the induction ceremony.
Membership into the Order of the Wheel was paused in 2019, but this year Mr. Trash Wheel deemed it was time for the secret society to accept new members.
“The application period for Order of the Wheel has always been limited to certain periods,” said Adam Lindquist, vice president of the Healthy Harbor Initiative at the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore. “Each year, at the appointed time, high ranking members of the Order of the Wheel make an offering of trash to Mr. Trash Wheel. Most years Mr. Trash Wheel merely feeds on the trash, but last month he delivered an ancient scroll that proclaimed that the application period for the Order of the Wheel was to be reopened.”
Cloaked figures shared Mr. Trash Wheel’s message, contained in a scroll “older than time itself,” in a video on Instagram.
Mr. Trash Wheel will use a magic hat to sort new members into their respective houses.
“He pulled it out of the Harbor,” Lindquist said. “It doesn’t smell great, but it looks fantastic.”
(Rumor has it the hat is currently under the care of Gwynnda the Good Wheel’s school of watercraft and trashery.)
Baltimore Fishbowl has reached out to Oscar the Grouch, of the Sesame Street neighborhood, given he is a leading subject matter expert on trash, but he has not responded to our request for comment.
Lindquist said the Waterfront Partnership hopes to collaborate with Mr. Grouch in the future.
“We proposed a trash exchange program in which Mr. Trash Wheel gets to live in a warm dry trash can for a month while a soggy Oscar the Grouch floats in the Harbor eating a million cigarette butts, but we haven’t heard back,” Lindquist said.
This year, the Order of the Wheel received applicants from all 50 states.
The only U.S. trash wheels are located here in Baltimore: Mr. Trash Wheel, Professor Trash Wheel, Captain Trash Wheel, and Gwynnda the Good Wheel of the West. Lindquist said there is also a trash wheel in Panama City, Panama named Wanda Diaz, and that Fort Worth Texas is building two trash wheels for the Trinity River.
For those in Baltimore and beyond who would like to pledge their undying devotion to Mr. Trash Wheel, the Trash Wheel family, and the health of the planet hosting our existence, you must submit your application by midnight, April 16, 2023.
The induction ceremony takes place at Mr. Trash Wheel’s birthday party on April 22, 2023 — Earth Day.
But shhhhhh. It’s a secret.