Ed Semmler | South Bend Tribune
Trains of large box containers pulled by an ATV start circling the parking lots of the University of Notre Dame campus about an hour before the game even gets under way.
When the vehicle comes to a stop, a crew from Great Lakes Property Maintenance jumps off to grab bags of rubbish, empty trash and recycling receptacles and pick up any other debris that might have been carelessly dropped in the area.
It’s a mess. Beer cans. Water bottles. Plates full of half-eaten food. Pizza boxes.
There’s no telling what they’ll run into, but the work has been fine-tuned over decades as Great Lakes with a crew of about 50 and a fair amount of equipment has handled the cleanup duties since the stadium was expanded in 1997.
The effort to clean up the tailgating lots, the stadium and other areas on campus following the game against Ball State University was considered a piece of cake. But the opposite was true the week prior when the Irish faced off against Michigan.
There were a combination of factors at work — the rekindling of an old rivalry involving two highly-ranked opponents, the return of ESPN College GameDay and a night game that provided fans the opportunity to party for roughly 12 hours before the game even got underway.
No one can remember more people ever descending upon campus — as many as 130,000, according to Sarah Misener, associate vice president of campus services at Notre Dame.
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