BRADENTON -- Tens of thousands of spectators were too busy having fun at Saturday's inaugural Bradenton Area Riverwalk Regatta to notice 17 employees from the Bradenton Public Works Department driving 95-gallon roll carts and frantically emptying garbage containers.
"I would go to war with those guys," said Dave Gustafson, executive director of the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, of city sanitation workers following a tour of the regatta area Sunday morning, which showed almost all debris was gone already.
Joggers such as Sue Alexander of Riverdance Condominiums were out early Sunday along Riverwalk and said there was no sign of the massive crowds who lined the Green Bridge two-deep and listened to Jefferson Starship on the concert stage lawn.
"It was a totally beautiful show and it seems everything is clean," said Alexander, who watched the powerboat races from her patio.
City workers were helped in the cleanup by volunteers from many service groups. The Manatee County Offender Work Program also sent out a crew Sunday.
"I'm glad to do it," said Josh Sanchez, who picked up the area around City Hall to pay some court costs Sunday.
The city crew worked 3 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday -- a 20-hour stint with overtime pay, said Gary Kinder, supervisor of Riverwalk for the Bradenton Public Works Department.
"It's hard for me to estimate exactly how many tons of garbage we picked up," Kinder said Sunday morning during cleanups. "What we picked up was mostly bottles and food containers. We recycled what we could and the rest was compacted and fit into one 25-yard garbage truck."
For perspective, an 18-wheeler will hold 45 yards of trash.
Kinder estimates the crowd hit six figures.
"I would have to say, for 100,000 people, they were pretty clean," Kinder said. "Most of what we picked up was from people putting trash in containers that were already overflowing."
Kinder said he was thankful it was an "alcohol-free" event.
"That made it easier on us and the police and the families," Kinder said.
Kinder and his right-hand man, equipment operator Danny Haag, were able to catch the show while working, they said. Both gave it a grade A.
"Jefferson Starship killed it," Haag said. "Their sound system was different from everyone else's. The fireworks were better than the Fourth of July."
"The boat races were awesome," Kinder said. "So were the jet ski stunts."
Kinder made a video for his 5-year-old daughter, Caylee, on his free time showing fireworks painting the sky to the music of her favorite song, "Let It Go," from the movie "Frozen."
"I think she thought that her daddy had them play 'Frozen' just for her," Kinder said.
Other than the need for more portable potties and more power for the Riverwalk in general, the event went off flawlessly, Gustafson said.
"We feel giddy with success this morning," Gustafson said Sunday.
Top regatta moments
Gustafson and his girlfriend, Adina Dyer of Tampa, offered their top seven moments from the first regatta.
7: Seeing 200 peace and emergency keepers, including law enforcement officers, fire fighters, EMS, U.S. Coast Guard and others patrolling the water and land around Riverwalk,
"We had 17 different agencies on hand," Gustafson said.
EMS responded to three incidents, including a woman who cut her head when she fell on the Green Bridge, a flipped race boat in which the pilot was uninjured and a case of heat exhaustion, Gustafson said.
6: Seeing Nick Herle's donated helicopter from Heli Helicopters looking for manatees up and down the river during the regatta.
"We had seven manatee-watch people," Gustafson said. Ron Ciaravella, owner of Dolphin Aviation, contributed 220 gallons of fuel for the helicopter.
5: Seeing Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston's face. "He was beaming all day," Gustafson said. "I saw him downtown talking to people at midnight."
4: Watching Doug Menser, "The Hot Dog Man," a downtown Bradenton institution, deal with massive crowds. Menser's station on the corner of Old Main Street and Barcarrota Boulevard is usually calm. The Hot Dog Man usually had a line of 15 to 20 people, Gustafson said.
"He went from selling about 60 hot dogs in one day to 600 or a 1,000," Gustafson said. "He was hanging in there, loving it."
3: When the generator for the concert stage kept shutting down, regatta officials knew something needed to be done before Jefferson Starship came on stage. The Public Works Department brought in a backup generator with a combined Manatee County Sheriff's Office and Bradenton Police Department escort, Gustafson said.
"It was like Moses parting the Red Sea," Gustafson said of the generator's arrival.
Manatee County favorite Sam Woolf was performing while the generator was installed, which pleased the crowd because he sang longer than expected, Gustafson added.
"It was like divine intervention," Gustafson said.
2: The first all-day closing of the Green Bridge with the crowd lined two-deep along it, Dyer said.
"At one point they did the wave," Dyer said.
1: Families together.
"I saw a father with a son on his shoulders and the son said: 'Look dad, the race is about the start.' That's the image of the first regatta I will always carry with me."
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.