How do you clean up after two million guests, some drunk, and many more messy?
The same way you do at home: Start clearing the dishes — or in this case, the confetti — before the guests even leave.
Philadelphia's Streets Department has a huge job ahead in the Super Bowl parade Thursday. But it has learned how to literally scrub a city clean, drawing on its experience during the Phillies' World Series parade in 2008, the papal visit in 2015, the Democratic National Convention in 2016, and numerous Philadelphia Marathons and Broad Street Runs.
Carlton Williams, the city's department of streets commissioner, acknowledges the task is still daunting.
"This will probably be the granddaddy of them all in terms of events we service," Williams said. "But we are well-prepared."
Williams said the plan is to clean up in time for Broad Street to reopen by rush hour late Thursday afternoon or early evening. The Parkway will be more difficult, but crews expect to finish there later in the evening, meaning rush hour near the Museum of Art will still likely be impacted past 5 p.m.
"Our goal," Williams said, "is to make it look like the parade never happened."
As an example of what his workers face: The Phillies parade generated 59 tons of rubbish. The pope, 43 tons, and the DNC, 16 tons.
So the city will have 250 employees — a third of the sanitation division — patrolling a nearly five-mile route from Broad and Pattison to the Art Museum. To help cut down on scattered debris, the city is chaining about 200 metal and plastic trash cans and recycling bins to poles at each intersection along the route.
Workers will keep a steady distance behind the trucks carrying the Eagles and the trucks equipped with confetti cannons.
The cleaning starts as soon as the caravan moves far enough ahead.
Crews will use about 100 pieces of equipment including trash compactors, mechanical sweeper brooms, backpack brooms, and water trucks. They'll start by sweeping up the trash. Then, they'll wet down streets to get rid of spilled beverages and other liquids.
The first pass of the route cleanup should take about four or five hours. Then, workers will do a second pass to give sidewalks and curbs a more thorough scrub.
The key to the operation is getting crowds to disperse as the parade moves away from them, Williams said.