Six hundred diners plan to feast at Sundays $175-per-plate Farm-to-Fork Tower Bridge Dinner, but flocks of uninvited guests may also appear.
The Tower Bridge is home to a vast number of pigeons, and an eight-person crew has spent the week scrubbing away bird droppings and cleaning the bridge in preparation of the event.
Ted Michienzi, the bridges maintenance supervisor for 36 years, estimates that up to 1,000 pigeons can be found daily on the Tower Bridge. And theyre known to leave their marks.
There are pigeon droppings everywhere, Michienzi said. This whole event is insane. Why not put it on the (riverfront) promenade, where you can see the bridge and not have a bunch of pigeons flying overhead?
Farm-to-Fork event organizers said they chose the Tower Bridge because it symbolically connects the agricultural heritages of Sacramento and Yolo counties.
The bridge dinner has raised $142,900 through ticket sales and table sponsorships, with proceeds funding public events during Farm-to-Fork week including Mondays cattle drive near the state Capitol and Saturdays Farm-to-Fork Festival on Capitol Mall. The festivities surround a recent initiative that declares Sacramento as Americas Farm-to-Fork Capital, which celebrates the regions farms and seeks to promote local food tourism.
Officials with the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau, the lead organizer of the gala dinner that caps Farm-to-Fork Week, had previously pondered the pigeon issue. They spent time researching online to learn if adding faux owls to the bridge or streamers might keep the birds at bay. Ultimately, organizers just hope the pigeons wont turn into party poopers at an event thats drawing civic officials, corporate sponsors and local culinary figureheads.
We want to be sensitive to the people coming to the dinner, but also to the folks who call that bridge home, said Mike Testa, senior vice president of the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau. Its a bridge, its outside and we hope that adds to the fun and doesnt ruin the party. We dont think well be disturbing them (for too long).
According to Michienzi, the Tower Bridge gets cleaned every five to six months at a cost of approximately $10,000. This cleanup effort was undertaken specifically for Sundays exclusive dinner.
Pigeon droppings can cause corrosion and mandate regular cleanings of the 737-foot-long bridge. Birds can be found in the 160-foot towers, columns and other parts of the structure.
Michienzis advice for attendees of Sundays dinner?
Wear a hat, he said.
Call The Bees Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias