The Oct. 30, 2000, New York Yankees World Series Winner Ticker Tape parade produced 46.7 tons of garbage. Photo: DSNY

The following morning, citizens and crews clean up small items left behind, which are bagged and left on the curb. Orange bags are used so the collector realizes it's debris the city picked up, not general household trash.

Rumble firmly believes in planning ahead to avoid mayhem. “If you have a plan and have as many people involved in knowing that plan beforehand, a lot of the public will help you if you have things like recycling bins,” he says. “A large segment of the population tries to do the right thing.”

It's also important to make the cleanup an ongoing process. “You need to be in motion and remove debris as quickly as possible,” says Rumble. “It tends to generate geometrically if you leave it out there.” Being on the ball also prevents vandalism. “A pile of garbage won't be set on fire if you get it out there before they [the fire-setters] can.”

— Banyay is a Zelienople, Pa.-based freelance writer.

Collection collaboration

Police and sanitation departments work hand-in-hand.

The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) collaborates with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for events. The NYPD grants permits to allow parades and then the department uses historical data to estimate the number of spectators and how much work might be involved.

In addition to working together to estimate crowd numbers, the two agencies also meet regarding crowd control. Because cleanup starts while the event is in progress, police contain crowds to the sidewalk while sweepers clean the curb and street.

Many large events also have a command post from which various department leaders disseminate communications to ease the jobs of DSNY and NYPD and work together more efficiently. “It happens quite often here so we have good practical experience from years past and it's not an issue,” says Bernard Sullivan, chief of cleaning. “It works out very well.”