French Quarter Fest 2017: Getting dirty with the cleanest krewe around
As your favorite musicians hit the stages at French Quarter Fest this year, there was a different kind of krewe hitting the festival grounds.
I noticed something I hadn’t before—a sharp looking group of people dressed head-to-toe in black and on each t-shirt read, “ART Keeping it Clean” framed with whimsical angel wings. They were maneuvering in and out of the crowd with such ease that no one really noticed them. They were doing something very important, though. They were cleaning up everyone else’s trash.
“It’s not an easy job; it’s not a glamorous job, but we take care of our people,” states Amy Blanchard, CEO of ART Janitorial Services, LLC.
Perhaps more well-known today as local TV celebrity Sidney D. Torres’, The Deed, mother, Earline Torres created ART Janitorial Services in 2008. A completely female-owned business, it has a sentimental demure that only close friends and family or extremely inquisitive folks like myself would realize how dear the company’s name is to Earline’s heart. After tragically losing her son, Anthony Randazzo “Tony” Torres, in a fatal car crash in August 2007, Earline named the company after him. I took a moment and reflected on the angel wings.
“Events produce a lot of trash,” declares Amy. She calculates the 1,000 yards (roughly) they manage for the festival will produce anywhere from 300,000 to 400,000 pounds of trash by the approximately 700,000 attendees over the course of the FQF.
I had a quick lesson in ‘trash talk’ and here is some vocabulary we can all come away with:
Eight-yard dumpster: Dumpster commonly found outside businesses
Roll-off dumpster: Dumpster commonly found on large construction sites Port-a-lisa: Restroom trailers with finer amnesties, including air conditioning and a sink with running water (usually found in the VIP section)
“We have 108 regular port-o-lets, 16 ADA (Americans with Disabilities) port-o-lets, 1 port-a-lisa, and 9 hand sanitizer stations. We have 11 Eight-yard dumpsters and roll-off dumpsters too. All the cans get brought down here after the event closes and at 4 in the morning, they all get emptied and placed back for the next day,” explains Amy.
I noticed how the Eight-yard dumpsters were strategically placed throughout Woldenberg Park. Painted green, it was as if they were part of the natural landscape, inconspicuously located along the grounds. “If everything was centrally located in one spot then you’d have to drag trash bags all throughout, and it wouldn’t be nearly as efficient,” Amy explains.
Talking that much trash—I realized how intricate of an operation it is to keep a festival clean.
“We have 26 people out here; they take pride in cleaning up,” Amy says, boasting proudly about her krewe.
Heading that krewe and looking like the Terminator with dark aviator shades and a radio piece draped over his neck, is Raymond Williams. He is all business when it comes to trash. “I’m the event manager,” he says. “I see how it’s laid out and basically, I zone people. I might have four people here and ten over there—depends on where the people will be.” I asked him what he looks for when hiring his people and he replies, “Motivation. Someone who’s gonna go get it. People walk up to me all the time and want to work. It’s hard to get jobs out here, so I give people chances. And if I see you’re good—I keep ya.”
Trash is a funny thing—you don't notice it until it’s a problem. In my case, though, I saw nothing but solutions when ART Janitorial Services is on the job.
You can catch ART Janitorial Services throughout the year as they manage all clean-up services for the French Market.
Native New Orleanian, Sarah Isabelle Prevot is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Arts Administration at the University of New Orleans while also being a regular contributor to NolaVie. You can follow her on Twitter @siprevot and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.