Overnight cleanup crew restores city's shine after Fiesta celebrations

City's Transportation & Capital Improvements' workers scrub messes clean

By Katrina Webber - Crime Fighters Reporter, Sal Salazar - Photojournalist, Bill Caldera - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - There’s a philosophy that the better the party is, the bigger the mess it will leave behind.

If that’s the case, San Antonio should look pretty beat after celebrations like Fiesta.

However, thanks to one team working post-party hours, the city’s shine is restored in no time.

“Our job is to ensure that the streets and sidewalk in the central part of the city every night are completely clean,” said Kory Van Rogue, a supervisor of heavy equipment for the city of San Antonio’s Transportation and Capital Improvements Department.

The department oversees and maintains miles of streets and drainage ditches throughout the city, in addition to other duties.

Van Rogue supervises a team of about a dozen people, tasked with keeping them clean and free of debris.

“We work from 8 p.m. until 6:30 a.m.,” he said. “While everyone is sleeping, we’re wide awake, working the entire night away.”

With street scrubber trucks and handheld brooms, they wash away any bad memories associated with other people’s good times.

The area they cover includes most of downtown, and they measure it in “gutter miles,”  the combined distance of curbsides that they clean.

On a regular night, Van Rogue’s crew sweeps and scrubs about 32 gutter miles.

During Fiesta, their workload and staffing numbers can increase threefold.

“It'll be a lot of debris,” he said. “But, luckily, we have the right resources and everything, and the city wipes it away like it never happened.”

Through their work, downtown visitors don’t have to see remnants of parties past.

Working overnight, though, Van Rogue has seen his share of odd things.

He also finds and returns a lot of forgotten items, such as “wallets, money, tourists,” he said, laughing.

While it sounds like a dirty job, Van Rogue said he takes pride in it.

Some of his staff, he said, actually enjoy it.

“I like beautifying the city and interacting with the public and the tourists as well,” Van Rogue said. “The city workers, they're actually happy when Fiesta comes around-- the overtime, the camaraderie.”

With the help of these workers, many people get to enjoy a cleaner city.

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