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Double Decker's Mess Is Worth The Success

Double Decker has grown exponentially in its 22 years, and with growing crowds comes a growing amount of trash piling up on the Oxford Square during the festival.
Overseeing the cleanup of the Square is the Superintendent of Environmental Services, Amberlyn Liles, who has been a part of this process for 17 years. She spent 12 years as the recycling coordinator and is now in her third year overseeing the annual festival. 
In 2016, trash was up 228 percent from 2015, and Liles expects that number to grow once more when the official numbers come in for 2017. After last year’s festival, the department added 150 additional garbage cans and 100 recycling bins in an effort to cut down on the amount of overflow. 
“It reduced overflow. I only saw one garbage can that was actually full,” Liles said. “We try to change the bags out when they’re about 75 percent full. The additional garbage cans really helped, they were more aesthetically pleasing with our new logo. It was a game changer.”
During the day, crews worked to ensure that trash stayed out of sight but had to toe the line between cleaning up and interfering with vendors throughout the Square. 
“You’ve got art vendors and food vendors out while we’re running street sweepers and blowers, and of course you don’t want to sweep to blow into anyone’s tent,” Liles said. “You’re trying to be polite and be respectful to their work, but you’ve also got to get the job done.” 
Vendors closed down at 5 p.m., and crews got to work cleaning areas of the Square away from the bar scene and the concerts taking place. When traffic was opened south of FNB, it helped Liles and her team by removing loiterers from areas which needed to be cleaned. 
When the festival ended and the crowds dispersed, there was still much work to be done. A team of environmental services workers along with OPD officers and mounted patrol worked until the waning hours of Sunday morning, with the last pieces of trash being picked up at 4 a.m. For Liles, the rewards of Double Decker far outweigh the long hours of cleanup following the festival. 
“It’s absolutely worth it; we get to show off our town with music and entertainment for everyone, to see little girls dancing and doing cartwheels and to me, that’s what a festival’s all about,” Liles said. “It all comes down to hows the weather? If the weather’s great, you’ll have a great festival, and if it rains, you’ll be able to clean up faster because everyone will scatter. The mess is definitely a good problem to have, and the mess shows the success.”
With each year comes new lessons learned, and in years to come Liles hopes to simply communication between the involved departments during the festival. 
“We always learn something every year. At one point I was carrying three radios: an environmental services radio for my team, one for the police department, and one for the production team. It would be nice to have a dispatcher next year that we can commutate through,” she said. 
The sun rose on Sunday morning and the historic Oxford Square looked as pristine as ever, which is what Liles sets out to ensure. 
“We couldn’t do it without the police and the mounted patrol,” Liles said. “The part we see, a lot of people don’t see. By 4 a.m. and when you get up Sunday morning, it looks like a festival hasn’t even happened yet. You don’t want anyone to see the mess, and that’s our mission.”

Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com 
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