Gearing Up for Mardi Gras: Street Sweepers of Fat Tuesday

Cleaning up the streets after a Mardi Gras celebration.Also known as “Fat Tuesday” in English, Mardi Gras is a long-time tradition with origins in several Christian faiths. Since many early cities had French settlers, Mardi Gras has become a popular festival in certain areas of the United States.

Quality Street Cleaning

Although the spectators are vital to the celebration, street sweepers and other city staff are essential. If quality street cleaning equipment doesn’t arrive after the festival, cities will have difficulty getting even the simplest street clean. Street sweepers typically perform the following types of tasks:

  • Large/heavy construction debris removal

  • Gravel or pavement milling before replacement

    Gravel or pavement milling before replacement

  • Municipal street cleaning

As you can see, street sweepers deal with many large and difficult items. They have the capability to clean streets after a Mardi Gras celebration, but it’s important to know about the situational factors. After discussing the origins of Mardi Gras, we’ll address these factors.

Mardi Gras Over the Years

This celebration was originally intended as a time of indulgence before the Lent season begins on Ash Wednesday. With modern adjustments and newer traditions, Mardi Gras has become more of a spectator festival than a religious event.

The basic celebration includes revelry during the week leading up to Fat Tuesday, the actual day of Mardi Gras. Parades, concerts, balls, and many other events all signify the yearly celebration.

Since the majority of Mardi Gras celebrations occur on public streets and roads, a large street cleaning effort helps complete cleanup after the festivities end. Below, we’ll talk about why street cleaning after public events like Mardi Gras matters so much, and we’ll discuss what factors impact the success of this process.

Carnival Hot Spots

Three main cities boast the largest Mardi Gras celebrations in southern Florida. These include Pensacola, Hollywood, and Orlando. Although each city has its own style and way of celebrating, Orlando’s Universal Studios boasts one of the largest celebrations in the state.

From February to April, the successful theme park hosts concerts, special parades, and more related activities. Events happen on weekends leading up to and after Fat Tuesday. Regular park admission includes the cost of these events, attracting many people to enjoy t he celebration.

Post-Celebration Issues

As you might guess, the streets of any city play a huge role in Mardis Gras-related celebrations. In fact, New Orleans Mardi Gras estimates as many as half a million spectators lining their major parade routes. But what other factors besides crowded streets can affect their cleanliness?

Where large numbers gather, large amounts of garbage result. Some city officials even measure Mardi Gras success based on the amount of garbage left behind. But street cleaning does more than tackle large pieces of garbage. It also combats dirt, buildup, and other common street elements.

Traditional “Float Throws”

In addition to common street debris, carnivals provide a unique assortment of uncommon debris. Most floats distribute and throw many different items including:

  • Moon pies

  • Beads

  • Coins (or krewe-marked doubloons)

  • Candies

  • Plastic cups.

As the parades progress, the streets build up a large amount of these items each time. Unfortunately, many of these items catch in t he street sweeper brushes. The sweeper usually has to manually clean such items out before continuing on. This is one key challenge to post-Fat Tuesday street cleaning.


Celebrating cities like New Orleans and Orlando have an average yearly humidity between 74-76%. This added moisture also impact s street cleaning processes. Street texture and moisture both determine the amount of power required for a full cleaning.

Overly dry or muddy streets can negatively impact the cleaning process on both ends of the spectrum. Since southern Florida is extremely humid, this is a common issue that street sweepers deal with.

Other Issues

Since many carnival events consist of multiple parades in the same traffic area, it can prove difficult to combat the waste until after all parades cease. As you can imagine, items build up on the street each time. This makes it difficult for each successive parade to move through the street unhindered.

Parked cars can also prevent proper cleaning from taking place. For this reason, street cleaners usually post parking warnings before hand. The high volume of people and traffic associated with Mardi Gras celebrations makes it difficult to ready streets for normal cleanings.

A Return to Normalcy

Despite these various issues in post celebration cleanup, the right street sweeper can get any task done with the following traits:

  • Applicable job knowledge

  • Correct and functioning equipment

  • Timely scheduled arrival and cleaning

  • Sufficient staff support

If you’ve had disappointment when cleaning post-party streets before, make sure to verify these characteristics in your current street sweeper. Once you find someone who can provide all these requirements, you’ll find the process goes much more smoothly.

The next time you enjoy a Mardi Gras celebration or parade in a public street, think about all that work that goes into cleaning it up afterwards. You’ll likely appreciate the event all the more, as well as feel more motivated to do your part to clean up.