As stated in the first half of Robert Rivard’s story, “Littertown: Broadway’s Fiesta Hangover,” Broadway Street was clean the day after the Fiesta Flambeau parade. This is credited to many volunteers, the Fiesta San Antonio Commission’s Fiesta Verde program, the City of San Antonio and the tremendous efforts of Keep San Antonio Beautiful. Part of this effort included Solid Waste Management providing hundreds of volunteers to distribute recycling and trash bags to parade-goers.
The Fiesta San Antonio Commission works with our Participating Member Organizations (who produce the events) each year to better our green initiative, Fiesta Verde. In 2014, we doubled the amount of organizations involved in the City’s Green Event Program, who all met City guidelines to operate with a green certification; this included events that are not on City property. Every year we improve upon the year before. The recycling data for 2014 is not available yet, but in 2013 we achieved a 31 percent recycling rate for the street parades.
It is an ongoing effort to change, as you state, “behavior.”
In regards to the parade cleanup, there is a process that is followed to make sure the street is clean. Upon the conclusion of the parades, the organizations running the street chair sections remove the chairs and clean the streets and areas of their section. Immediately following, the street sweepers begin cleaning the streets of the parade route.
At 1 a.m., after the street sweepers have concluded, the dismantling of bleachers is started and continues through the night. The photos in your story depicting garbage is the garbage that was underneath the bleachers. The garbage cannot be removed until the bleachers are dismantled, as you cannot walk under the bleachers to retrieve it.
The bleacher sections are not operated by community groups and nonprofit organizations, as the street chairs are operated. The bleacher sections are simply individual tickets sold through the parade organizations. There are not “offending groups” to “force to comply with the anti-litter campaign, or lose their places along the parade route.
With the large lots along Broadway, those are private lots and it is up to the property owner to secure the proper licensing and cleanup for those areas.
With all the green measures we put into place, provide resources for and communicate about, it still comes down to an individual decision to dispose of garbage properly.
The Fiesta San Antonio Commission is a stand-alone nonprofit organization that raises money all year long. We provide $240,000 each year to the parades, which includes logistical expenses as bleachers, barricades and port-o-lets. Additionally, the Commission provides an additional $150,000 to other events so they can break even. The Commission does not receive any money or proceeds from the events.
The Fiesta Commission Charitable Corporation is our 501(c)(3) side of the organization which includes charitable programs to sustain the overall celebration known as Fiesta. During our 2013-14 year, we have developed the various charitable programs. Fiesta Verde is one such program under our charitable umbrella.
Our recycling efforts are improving and we are looking to develop and expand these efforts over the next few years. In order to make a significant impact, money is needed to help all 100 nonprofits that run events obtain recycling containers and build a solid recycling plan. For instance, the City of San Antonio has 150 “clear stream” recycling containers. In order to build a one-to-one recycling plan, more containers are needed, especially when there are 39 events that run on the first Saturday of the traditional Fiesta schedule. Through donations to Fiesta Verde, these goals of better recycling containers and plans can be achieved. More information on Fiesta Verde can be found at www.fiesta-sa.org.
In order to improve our City and reduce littering, we know it takes everyone to pitch in and keep not only Fiesta, but also San Antonio, beautiful. As the Fiesta Commission, we are looking at ways to make this effort easy and simple, so it becomes second nature to us all.
*Featured/top image: The Fiesta Flambeau Parade. Photo courtesy FIESTA® SAN ANTONIO COMMISSION/©JONATHAN ALONZO PHOTOGRAPHY.