Princeton dumpster: From eyesore to town treasure

A dynamic dumpster is the center of attention in a small central Minnesota town, and they're proving one business' trash is an entire town's treasure.

On the main drag in Princeton, Minnesota, a newcomer arrived in early January.

"The safety concern was up there," said Dustin Akers. "Right up there."

But the perceived threat took an unexpected turn.

It all started when the New China restaurant closed for renovations. They brought in a dumpster for their trash. But these days, the dumpster isn't just for your trash. It's also become a much more important landmark. Akers’ original Facebook post about the dumpster disappeared, but he and David Meyer kept the topic alive. They even gave the big orange beast a name.

"Somebody said, 'Why don't we do something with the original post creator with his name, Dustin?'" said Meyer. "I'm like, ‘All right, Dusty, the crusty, rusty dumpster.’ And it stuck."

As their Facebook group grew to more than 1,200 people, the town of fewer than 5,000 realized this dumpster was no throwaway.

They’re proving one business’ trash is an entire town’s treasure.

Within a couple of weeks, the Princeton Pizza Barn created their Dumpster Fire pizza — spicy and topped with hot wings. Northern Nutrition drew up an orange Dumpster Tea.

"The tea was very, very good," said a surprised Akers.

The VFW bar mixed rum and Orange Crush for the Dusty Rusty Crusty Dumpster drink.

Then came the parodies. A movie trailer teased Robert Deniro as the dumpster, and the Princeton High School music department pulled a few strings.

"We thought, ‘What could make it more absurd?’" said band director Jim Baxter.

Not to toot their own horn, but Baxter and choir director Charlie Moe played an ode to the town’s older dumpsters and conducted a YouTube operation to decimate Dusty.

"Since nobody seemed to be happy about it, neither were we, and we blew it up with a missile," Moe said.

But Dusty seems indestructible, so Princeton is embracing the joke and once again flipping the script. Sales of bumper stickers and t-shirts with reminders of the original safety complaint are designed to benefit the community.

"It turned into something more serious that we are doing together as an organization, so we are going to help the Princeton Fire Department and the Princeton Food Pantry," Meyer said.

The restaurant has no solid timeline for its renovation, so at least for now, Dusty’s days are not numbered.