Bring on the outrageous party hats, noisemakers and gaudy glasses guaranteed to end up on the streets of Times Square.
Veteran sanitation worker Angel Vega said he and his colleagues are ready to help make it all disappear by the time the sun rises on 2019.
“It’s an adventure, it’s fun but it’s also hard work,” said Vega, who has been on the job for 20 years. “The confetti is the worst. The harder you try to pick it up, the more it slips away. But we have the equipment and the know-how to get it done.”
Last year, a dedicated crew of New York City sanitation workers cleared out more than 57 tons of debris from Times Square after the New Year’s Eve festivities ended. The biggest challenge was warding off frostbite as temperatures hovered around 9 degrees and felt even colder.
“Those are not ideal working conditions,” admitted DSNY Chief Paul Visconti, who oversees cleaning operations. “We enjoy being down there … but we hope it’s not too hot or too cold. If it’s too warm, people don’t want to leave.”
Work begins days in advance, when litter baskets are removed and sanitation trucks are used to barricade streets around Times Square as part of the NYPD’s security plan.
Visconti said more than 250 sanitation workers and 45 supervisors and chiefs will be on hand New Year’s Eve to make sure all the debris left by more than 1 million revelers is removed from the crossroads of the world. And though 140 pieces of equipment — including mechanical brooms — will be deployed, some workers must use hand rakes and backpack blowers to corral the confetti.
Vega said he gets a kick out of the wacky costumes some partygoers wear, and enjoys meeting people who have traveled long distances to witness the iconic ball drop.
“Little kids ask us about the equipment,” he said. “But sometimes people run in front of the broom to take pictures.”
Visconti said sanitation workers are always ready to go shortly after midnight, even if revelers are reluctant to break up the party.
“Have a good time,” he advised anyone headed to Times Square for the bash. “But once Frank Sinatra stops singing “New York, New York” please go home so we can do our job.”