NEW PORT RICHEY — With at least 80,000 spectators expected for the 2014 Chasco Fiesta Street Parade on Saturday, March 22, inevitably a lot of trash gets left behind for volunteer crews to pick up.
The Holiday Rotary, the parade organizer, appealed to City Council to switch parade cleanup from Saturday night to Sunday morning.
The number of volunteers could triple or quadruple for a Sunday morning trash detail, Rotarian Greg Armstrong told council members. Safety of helpers is a paramount concern, he said, adding school leaders have pledged to help with recruiting.
Mayor Bob Consalvo said a public hearing could be scheduled about the request, with an item possibly on the agenda for the council meeting Tuesday.
In recent years, volunteers have taken over more of the workload to put on the parade as the city scaled back its contributions to the event.
“We’re constantly working with you to try to find ways to improve it, do it more efficiently, save money,” Armstrong told council. “And one of those ways is having volunteers clean up the trash.”
Armstrong visited officials with Strawberry Festival and Gasparilla about methods they use for parades.
“At Gasparilla, they do not go out immediately after the parade to clean up,” Armstrong said. “In fact, they tell the people in those multimillion-dollar houses on Bayshore (Boulevard) that they’ve got to live with it until Sunday morning.”
Then Gasparilla adult supervisors deploy some 200 to 250 “enthusiastic” youngsters to get rid of debris on Sunday morning, Armstrong said.
“They did it during the day and, when I asked the police chief why, she told me it was because of safety reasons,” Armstrong explained. “They didn’t want people out there … after the event when there might be somebody driving that shouldn’t be driving” as it gets dark.
Volunteers who typically help set up the parade “have been out there since 5 o’clock in the morning on Saturday,” Armstrong continued. “Again, a lot of them are my age. When it gets to 6 o’clock Saturday night, they’re shot. And I speak from experience on that.”
With the theme “Proud to be an American,” the parade will start at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 22, with about 140 units traveling downtown streets. Lots of Krewes participate in the parade, which means plenty of beads to catch.