St. Patrick's revelers cause heaps of litter

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Drunks wearing beads, feathers and green hats rode piggyback along East Carson Street. One even proposed to his girlfriend as 40 onlookers applauded.

But during the St. Patrick's Day revelry this past weekend on the South Side, two sets of pedestrians didn't fare as well.

City police said three girls they did not identify "darted through three lanes of stopped traffic and were all struck by a moving car in the fourth lane" in the 100 block of East Carson near the Smithfield Street Bridge.

One was in critical but stable condition at UPMC Mercy while the others suffered moderate to minor injuries. The driver was not found to be impaired.

Two other pedestrians were struck by a vehicle at 10th and East Carson streets, but police provided no further details.

"There were a lot of drunken people running around and acting crazy," said Dani Kramer, an employee of the Beehive Coffeehouse at 1327 Carson St. "It started about 9 a.m. and it was in full effect by noon. I just went home and locked my doors."

Police were busy from early Saturday until the wee hours yesterday. They stopped 101 cars and issued 39 traffic citations. They also issued 46 non-traffic citations and made 45 arrests, 18 of them for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Police said the majority of stopped vehicles had designated drivers.

The Port Authority arrested a girl who tried to climb Mount Washington at the Monongahela Incline. State Liquor Control Enforcement also issued 79 citations, mostly for underaged drinking.

Overall police security on the South Side was described as solid. Most taverns also had beefed-up security.

In the aftermath, the major complaints involved trash and safety.

One merchant, who's been pressing the city for weekend cleanup crews, said city Public Works failed to provide sufficient cleanup in the wake of the green onslaught and alcohol-induced mayhem. St. Patrick's Day marks the South Side's largest annual celebration.

"Everything green was on the streets and a lot of open beer bottles," said Penny Folino, owner of Tom's Diner, which is open 24 hours a day, with Folino's restaurant and tavern next door at 1717 E. Carson St.

City crews put out 50 additional trash receptacles on East Carson and began emptying trash cans at 6 a.m. yesterday.

A city ordinance requires merchants, not city crews, to clean sidewalks in front of their establishments. Still, Ms. Folino said, volunteers yesterday had to clean up the mess left by St. Patrick's Day revelers.

"It was the worst I've ever seen," she said, noting she has a slide show showing the trash that accumulates each weekend. "We lack city services on the South Side, and it's disturbing."

A member of the Mayor's Advisory Committee, she said she'll raise the issue once again at the next meeting March 26.

"I feel that this issue is not being heard -- or it's being ignored," Ms. Folino said. "The South Side is a 24-hour town, and it's very electric here, and we're the No. 1 revenue earner for the city, so I'll continue this fight."

As pedestrian accidents indicate, safety is another major concern.

"There were a lot of piggyback rides and people running into the streets in front of cars," Ms. Folino said. "Luckily, traffic was not moving fast, but East Carson Street should be closed for safety for such events."

City Councilman Bruce A. Kraus participated in the 21/2-hour cleanup yesterday that filled 30 trash bags, which city crews then hauled away.

"Hey, I could always use more resources," he said. "But for the number of people [that St. Patrick's Day] generated, they did a beautiful job."

Susan McCoy, a South Side resident and public safety chairwoman for the South Side Community Council, said the city should assume responsibility for cleaning up parking lots and community properties.

"We need more involvement from the city," Ms. McCoy said. "We also need business owners to be more responsible for their own litter.

"The city needs to make it clear who's responsible for what, and what penalties people face for continuing to break the rules."

Public Works Director Guy Costa said a street sweeper was scheduled to clean South Side streets before midnight.

"We're encouraging more volunteerism and need property owners to do their part," Mr. Costa said. "It's easy to criticize the city when people don't clean up their own properties."

He said most of yesterday's trash, indeed, was green.

"But, unfortunately," he said, "it wasn't dollars."


David Templeton can be reached at dtempleton@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1578.


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