For the city of Gloucester's Public Works crews, the back-to-back celebrations of Fiesta and the Horribles Parade amounts to a blizzard in July.
These events bring in our Public Works staff almost as much as a snowstorm does.
For the five days of Fiesta, the crews head out every day at 5 a.m. to clean up the Main Street and St. Peter's Square area. The Fiesta Committee works with the vendors to maintain a level of cleanliness throughout the day and the city provides the waste removal services to prevent overflowing barrels and dumpsters. This coordinated effort also keeps litter to a minimum.
Seagulls are the biggest challenge when it comes to managing any litter that is generated from the five-day Fiesta celebration. As we all know, they have a way of swooping down, grabbing their treasure, and then leaving their waste behind blocks and blocks away.
The same is true of the Horribles Parade. A mere six hours after the last firework lets off, the Public Work crews are out on the parade route at 4 a.m. They start at Gloucester High School and proceed along the entire route "pick-sticking" up the trash. The seagulls do not have a chance.
The Department of Public Works uses pick sticks because it gets the job done in the most thorough manner, and using blowers would delay the operation until a more reasonable hour of the day because the noise would bother sleeping residents. The street sweeper follows the pick stickers to put the finishing touch on the job, and by 8 a.m., you would not even know that there was a massive parade in the city with thousands of spectators the night before.
Beach raking is another important operation during this time.
Pavilion Beach is raked every day during Fiesta, along with the city's other beaches. Thousands of people visit Pavilion Beach during Fiesta to watch the Greasy Pole, and every day a clean beach greets our residents and visitors.
In addition to Pavilion Beach, Good Harbor, Wingaersheek, Niles and Half Moon Beach all need tending.
Altogether our beaches can accommodate upward of 7,000 people per day. It's amazing how much litter gets buried in the sand. Don't be deceived by a beach rake out there cleaning a clean beach. Charlie Nicastro, the city's operator, tells me that the rake digs down a half foot or so and turns up dirty diapers, feminine products, trash and other disgusting things.
Removing stinky seaweed is nice, but removing hazards that can cut a young child's foot is better. Longtime Public Works staff member Peter Dennen supervises this entire operation, and while he probably has half the staff he's had in years back, they make efficient use of time, utilize the tools at their disposal, and most of all, take great pride in their work.
Then we have Public Works crews who have to respond to emergencies such as the water main break that occurred the morning of the Horribles Parade.
The utility crews had to abandon their planned job for the day, and immediately head over to repair the broken water main. As a result, road closures were kept to a minimum, and the parade was uninterrupted.
Add to this the power outage that occurred at that same time, affecting parts of the city, and I could have sworn we were having a blizzard.
For residents and visitors, it was 80 degrees and sunny. For the Department of Public Works, it was a storm of a different sort — and as usual, they did a fantastic job throughout it all.
Carolyn Kirk is mayor of the city of Glocuester.