They came, they partied and they left behind a massive mess.
Thousands of people celebrating the Fourth of July descended upon Fort Mason on Wednesday and brought with then thousands of pounds of trash. An estimated 30 cubic yards of garbage — 1 cubic yard holds about 200 gallons — decorated Fort Mason’s meadow Thursday morning, forcing federal park officials to spend the day cleaning up following the midweek Independence Day festivities rather than catch up on work or move
federal projects forward.
Among the more unusual trash items were raw chicken and a couch, said Alexandra Picavet, a spokeswoman for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
“We’ve never seen anything like it,” she said.
Picavet said masses of people showed up at Fort Mason about 2 p.m. and then left later to find prime viewing spots for the evening fireworks display. Fireworks were shot from barges off Aquatic Park and Pier 39, but Fort Mason is not a great spot from which to watch.
“You can’t see the fireworks from there,” Picavet said. “There are buildings and a hill blocking the view.”
Those people, however, brought food, Styrofoam coolers, barbecues and even a makeshift bar — all of which were left behind and needed to be cleaned up. Remnants of illegal fireworks were also in the grass.
As many as 55 people — from a superintendent to interns — assisted a National Park Service maintenance crew in the daylong cleanup. Picavet said Crissy Field also was covered in trash, but did not have the same large items that decorated Fort Mason.
In both locations, trash bins provided for visitors were not used, Picavet said.
The park service is now debating what kind of steps to take in order to curb the littering and prevent massive trash piles in the future, including implementing a curfew or even banning alcohol.
Picavet said the park service dealt with similar garbage issues after Earth Day in April.