Record-setting Crowd for Inauguration Leaves Staggering Amount of Trash

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By Steven Mendoza
Maryland Newsline
Friday, Jan. 23, 2009

Of all the records set by the inauguration of President Obama, perhaps least touted was the staggering amount of trash his supporters left behind.

"On any usual, regular … garden variety-type of day, there are between three and four tons of trash collected" from the National Mall and surrounding areas, said National Park Service spokesman Bill Line.

But by noon on the day after Obama's swearing-in, roughly 100 tons of trash had been collected, Line said.

"We believe this is the largest amount of trash ever collected off of the National Mall and the combination of Pennsylvania Avenue and Lafayette Park," he said.

The cleanup began as soon as the parade ended Tuesday evening. By 7:30 p.m., the National Park Service had 400 people -- including 100 volunteers from the Presidential Inaugural Committee -- scouring the mall. 

The District’s Public Works Department contributed another 110 workers to the cleanup, using 20 street sweepers, 12 leaf vacuums and 12 garbage trucks, said spokeswoman Nancee Lyons.

All were primarily charged with getting the main streets cleared before the morning commute, she said. The work continued uninterrupted into the afternoon of the next day.

"They were almost shoulder to shoulder; they were literally walking around stabbing things, putting it in a bag, stabbing things, putting it in a bag. That was the quickest way to clean the trash up," Line said.

The D.C. mayor's office estimated the inaugural crowd at 1.8 million to 2 million people, the largest gathering ever on the Mall.

Copyright 2009 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism

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