Dancing in the streets to electronic beats at the 97th annual ING Bay to Breakers was quelled Sunday afternoon when police were called in to clear a path for street sweepers and trash collectors.
San Francisco resident Jesse Hooper was one of the thousands of disappointed people who jeered as a line of 10 motorcycle-riding police officers shouted orders and sounded sirens over the din of bass-heavy boom-boxes to help clear Fell Street.
“It’s a Sunday afternoon and the stereos are playing and everyone’s having a good time,” Hooper said. “Is it really a good time to clean the streets?”
The race was won by a pair of speedy Kenyan athletes, but more than 35 tons of mess that trailed the event was left behind, mostly by ambulatory revelers more interested in drinking than in sprinting.
Nearly 70 city workers used their hands, brooms, bags and a flotilla of heavy-duty trucks to scour the trail of smashed liquor and beer bottles, empty wine boxes, discarded costumes, fast-food containers, plastic bags and disposable cups that littered the course from The Embarcadero to Ocean Beach.
As the workers marched west from Van Ness Avenue they ran into a wall of boisterous partiers — many in disintegrating costumes and some wearing little more than the skin they were born in.
Department of Public Works deputy director Mohammad Nuru, who coordinated the massive clean-up operation, said he called in police around 1 p.m. so his workers could do their jobs.
“Last year we didn’t need police,” Nuru said. “There were a lot more people this time. This year the most difficult part of the race was Fell Street — there were too many house-parties; too many drunk people.”
Many entrepreneurial passers-by were filling shopping trolleys with empty bottles and cans as The City’s cleanup crews drew near, but much of the recyclable material that the passers-by missed was crushed along with unrecyclable trash in dump trucks.
Golden Gate Disposal and Recycling Co. set up recycling points along the route, according to general manager Maurice Quillen. He said event organizers were responsible for making sure waste was sorted properly, and he said recyclable material mixed with trash will end up in landfill.
Bay to Breakers cleanup efforts
Waste collected: 35.45 tons
Mechanical sweepers: 8
Water and steam trucks: 6
Dump trucks: 2
Source: San Francisco Department of Public Works