They came. They ate. They watched fireworks.
They left a massive amount of trash.
Following Wednesday's Fourth of July celebration at The Park at River Walk, city workers arrived Thursday morning to rubbish-filled fields and restrooms a hazardous materials worker might think twice about before entering.
"The Park at River Walk was a total mess," said Dianne Hoover, director of city of Bakersfield Recreation and Parks.
Twelve city staff members were picking up trash at the park Thursday compared to the usual three. Additionally, a volunteer group from New Advances for People with Disabilities was helping clean up the mess.
Hoover said all the trash was expected to be bagged by the end of the work shift.
Park workers made efforts Wednesday night to alleviate the problem — handing out trash bags to people, asking them to pick up after themselves — but with little success. Food containers were discarded across the grounds.
And the cleanup crews that entered the restrooms faced an even worse, nauseating sight: walls smeared with feces.
"There’s no reason, there’s no rhyme, there’s no understanding," Hoover said of the state in which the restrooms were left. The stomach-churning mess was found in both the men's and women's restrooms.
"I just wish people would respect the park as their own property," Hoover said. "The park belongs to everyone, and I just wish they’d know that and respect that."
While park workers were trying to stem the tide of trash, firefighters issued 48 citations for illegal fireworks across the city Wednesday evening, according to the Bakersfield Fire Department's Facebook page.
According to the department, fireworks hotline operators fielded more than 1,000 calls from residents reporting illegal fireworks. Between 100 to 200 pounds of fireworks were seized, Battalion Chief John Frando said.
An additional 100 pounds of fireworks were surrendered by residents during a drop-off period July 3 in which illegal fireworks could be turned in without any legal repercussions.
A citation for illegal fireworks can cost city residents up to $1,000.
Firefighters worked with Bakersfield police in 38 teams to patrol the city and respond to calls of illegal fireworks usage on July 3 and July 4 — typically the department's busiest days of the year.
Frando said between six to eight fireworks-related injuries were reported July 4, but he didn't know the severity of the injuries. And while firefighters put out several brush fires and one structure fire, it had not been determined whether fireworks ignited them.
Police spokesman Sgt. Brian Holcombe said the Bakersfield Police Department's communications center fielded almost 2,000 calls from noon to midnight on July 4. That's not a large spike from the department's average call volume, and Holcombe said that's likely due to the separate fireworks hotline that was set up.
A total of 15 gunshot-related calls came in, 13 entered as "shots heard" and two as "shots fired." There were no gunshots reported from the department's ShotSpotter system, which covers several square miles of east central Bakersfield and uses sensors to triangulate sound waves and pinpoint their origin.