The World’s Largest Street Celebrations- Plus the Messes They Leave Behind

When did you last attend a street festival in your area? Perhaps your city has a vibrant St. Patrick’s Day celebration complete with green floats, green confetti, and green-clad Irish river dancers. Or maybe you have fond memories of your city’s Fourth of July parade, which featured military marches, high school bands, and cannon salutes.

Whatever street festivals you’ve participated in, you were probably too busy having fun to pay attention to the litter left behind. But during a typical celebration, participants throw wrapped candies to the crowd, sell treats like ice cream bars and cotton candy, and sometimes set off bursts of confetti or glitter. On top of that, there’s the dust, spills, and scuffs left behind by a typical celebration.

The day after the festival, most of this mess is gone, largely thanks to the street sweepers and sanitation workers in your area. But what about larger events? Can street sweepers clean up after a celebration as large as Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival, or the New Year’s Eve celebration at Times Square? The answer is a definite yes-though you’ll be surprised at just how much mess street sweepers can tackle.

Read our blog below to learn about some of the world’s most exciting festivals, and how street sweepers keep the roadways clean before and after.

How Do Street Sweepers Help?

First, let’s discuss the typical role street sweepers play in many street festivals. They usually come out during two key times: right before the festival, and right after.

Before a festival begins, street sweepers go over the area to make the streets safe for participants. They remove any dirt, trash, or other objects that could cause problems once the streets flood with people. They also beautify the area to prepare the city to stand out once visitors arrive.

When they host events involving bikes or runners (such as city- or state-wide marathons), some cities hire special street sweepers to clean paved bike trails or segregated bikeways on the road.

Finally, street sweepers turn up after a festival to clean up anything left behind. In larger festivals, street sweepers often work in conjunction with local workers to clear away all the trash. Your local street sweepers can take care of any mess, no matter how large, in the wake of an exciting event.

Now that you know how crucial street sweepers are to street celebrations, read below to see what kinds of jobs they take on at festivals around the world.

New Year’s Eve at Times Square

Every December 31st, thousands of people crowd into Times Square to watch the ball drop, then celebrate the New Year with confetti, cheers, and kisses. In fact, on December 31st, 2014, nearly 1 million people crowded into Times Square, where a confetti crew showered them with more than 1 ton of confetti.

With such a large celebration, you would think only a sanitation crew in the hundreds could take care of the mess. Actually, it’s less than 200. Only 178 sanitation workers cleaned up the streets on January 1st, 2015, aided by street sweepers, mechanical brooms, leaf blowers, and trucks. By the 2nd, the crew successfully removed over 52 tons of garbage, getting the Square in top shape for the 360,000 visitors it sees each day.

Carnival at Rio de Janeiro

If 52 tons of garbage seems like a lot for a cleaning crew to handle, consider this: street cleaners removed 300 tons of garbage after Rio de Janeiro’s 2013 Carnival festivities. Of course, Carnival is a much longer celebration than the several hours of New Year’s Eve festivities, since partygoers celebrate for five straight days and nights. It’s the world’s largest Carnival celebration-two million people enjoy parades, samba competitions, and parties on the streets each day.


St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin

Originally, St. Patrick’s Day was a strictly religious celebration. Irish immigrants to the United States turned it into a colorful cultural celebration, which then caught on back in Ireland (and across the world). The current celebration features a vibrant parade and a long day and night of street festivities celebrated by 2 million people. As celebrations die down, night crews come out to clean in shifts to remove around 20 tons of litter.

Glastonbury Music Festival

Like Carnival, this festival spans five days. It’s also the largest green field festival in the world, which means sanitation crews have to take a slightly different approach to the outdoor clean-up. After all the headlining bands and musical celebrations, 800 sanitation workers start to pick up trash all over the 1,200-acre festival site. Tractors help clear away the garbage, but it still takes crews around 6 weeks to return the area to pre-festival conditions.

Now that you know a little bit more about how much trash street sweepers remove, you can appreciate your local street sweepers a little more. Enjoy your city’s next outdoor celebration to the fullest, and be proud that your clean-up crew has the dedication and resources to get the area back to its usual shine within a few hours.  USA Services offers a full line of festival preparation and cleanup services throughout the State of Florida.  Contact us today for more information.