- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The political protests and other events that reportedly drew thousands of visitors to the District last weekend increased Metro ridership, but produced no record-breaking numbers, officials said yesterday.

Metro officials said 464,398 passengers rode the subway system on Saturday — when anti-war demonstrators rallied on the Ellipse, then marched through downtown. Officials said 211,679 passengers used the system on Sunday.

About 300,170 passengers used the subways on the same Saturday last year, and about 188,500 used it on the same Sunday.

“It was a noticeable increase,” said Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein, who attributed the numbers to the combination of protests, Washington Nationals baseball games and other events in the area.

“There were so many things going on in town,” she said.

National Park Service spokesman Bill Line said the visitors left a minimal amount of trash.

Sanitation crews worked regular shifts over the weekend and on Monday to clear the debris left in President’s Park and on the Mall by demonstrators and those who attended the National Book Festival.

Mr. Line said 3.25 tons were collected from President’s Park — which includes Lafayette Park and the Ellipse. Crews cleaning the grounds of the Mall near the Washington Monument and immediately south of Constitution Avenue near the Commerce Department building collected 1.7 tons.

“In the larger scheme of the world, it was really not all that much,” Mr. Line said.

By comparison, crews hauled away 45 tons of trash off the Mall after this year’s July 4 fireworks and concerts on park grounds.

The book festival was sponsored by the Library of Congress and held between Seventh and 14th streets on the Mall.

Organizers said the event drew about 90,000 people and that supporters of the war and anti-war demonstrators helped increase the turnout.

“We saw that many of the protesters partook in the book festival activities,” said Audrey Fischer, a Library of Congress spokeswoman. “As one of our authors said: ‘It was quintessential Washington … a real celebration of books and democracy.’”

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