It's A Funny Business
Contractor Captures Colorful Contract With 'Color Me Rad' Company
There is one thing that can be said for certain when it comes to being a sweeping contractor: When the phone rings, you never know what the person on the other end of the line might want you to clean up. The project that Virginia-based, Commercial Power Sweeping, Inc., took on last month was their most colorful ever.
In the last few years, the concept of conducting races to raise money has grown significantly. In this instance, supplying water and cleanup was needed for an organization called Color Me Rad, which is holding 5K footraces in a total of 26 cities around the U.S. and Canada.
The concept of the run, which is held over a course laid out on grass, is that runners are pelted with colorized cornstarch packets throughout the race. The packets are non-toxic and have been determined to have zero environmental impact, which is a good thing since an incredible number of packets are thrown, both along the course and especially at the parking lot that represents the finish line.
"The runners come out looking like a bag of Skittles," said Karl Stauty, president of Commercial Power Sweeping, Inc. "The whole event was really something to see. By the time they got to the end you couldn't tell who was under all the color they were wearing!
"Our scope of work included putting out 65 barrels of water along the course of the event, and then conducting a thorough cleanup of the only paved surface on the course, which was the large parking area at the finish line. I'm not sure if the water was for drinking or for getting the participants wetter so the color would stick better. The people were definitely pelted with color throughout the course.
For a finish line area, the organization leased a local sports complex. This is where the real color tossing mayhem took place; the results, as shown in the photos, has to be seen to be believed. Even though the colorized cornstarch was water-soluble, it stained the parking lot throughout.
"It was actually quite a challenge to get the parking lot cleaned up," said Stauty. "We couldn't just go in and sweep it up in a normal fashion using water for dust control. We knew the addition of water would make the material into a 'syrup,' for lack of a better word. Dust containment would be a primary concern, especially for the first pass.
"The Color Me Rad organizers had apparently had some experience with cleanup via a parking lot sweeper and discovered that it blew large amounts of color powder up into the air, making cleanup that much more difficult. The sportsplex complex parking lot being used for the event didn't have much slope to it and the pavement was mostly smooth.
In light of all the data, Stauty recommended that the best sweeper for the job would be a street-class regenerative air machine. For the job, Stauty chose one of the Elgin Crosswind sweepers in his fleet.
"The first pass was the worst. To give you an idea of the scope, in some places the colored powder was 4-or-5 inches thick. The Crosswind blew some amount of colorful dust on the first pass, or course, but overall did a very good job.
"For the rest of the passes, our operator was careful to position the blast side of the sweeping head online pavement that had previously been swept, so as to disturb the least possible amount of remaining color powder. That got most of the material up but the pavement was still rainbow-colored.
"So, we used a water truck in order to remove as much of the remaining color as we could from the pavement. We thought it might take some significant pressure washing time, as well, so we had a power washing crew standing by. However, the combination of water truck and sweeper got the job done in most of the parking lot.
Although there were a few isolated areas where the pavement still had a little color on it, the owners of the sportsplex were happy with the job we did. Since then we've had several thunderstorms and these have pretty much taken up the remainder."
"After that, we used a water truck in order to get up as much of the remaining color up from the pavement as we could. we thought it might take some significant pressure washing time, as well, but the combination of water truck and sweeper got the job done in most of the parking lot."
To see more information about the series of Color Me Rad 5k events, check out the organization's website. This colorful event may be headed to a location near you sometime this summer.
Stauty credits his membership in 1800SWEEPER.com for getting him this particular sweeping job. He said he is now providing information to Mike Lucht and the rest of the 1800SWEEPER management team about his techniques and approach to the Color Me Rad project, with the idea of 'cloning' a system that worked well for the Virginia Beach event. That way, other contractor members in charge of cleanup for future Color Me Rad events will be able to do a similarly strong job.
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