Each year, Lawrence residents arrive at South Park by the hundreds to celebrate Earth Day. From making sure you are properly attired to helping you find ways to be a little more earth-friendly, we provide these tips to help make the most of the day.
The festivities begin at 11 a.m. Saturday with an Earth Day Parade down Massachusetts Street. The parade, which will have more than 400 participants, will start at Seventh Street and end in South Park. Among the highlights will be The Merc’s plastic bag monster and Yogi Bear.
Following the parade will be the Earth Day Celebration in South Park. About 75 exhibitors plan to be there, including the crowd favorite, the Animal Outreach of Kansas’ free vegan lunch. The event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Bring a costume or sign
From frogs to smokestacks, Lawrence residents have been known to wear all sorts of costumes when it comes to celebrating Earth Day. To participate in the parade, you don’t have to wear a silly outfit or carry a sign, but it would be great if you would, said Kim Scherman, a Kansas University student who is organizing the parade through KU Environs.
Scherman recommends pulling inspiration from nature. An example was last year’s coordinator who glued bark and leaves to her clothes to become a tree.
Animal costumes are great for kids and can be reused in the fall for Halloween. Another popular option is using a little green and white paint to fashion a cardboard box into a recycling bin.
And if dressing up isn’t your forte, make a sign or banner to promote your environmentally friendly cause.
Plan your route
Whether it be by foot, bike or bus, organizers encourage participants to arrive at the event sans car.
To make it easier, Lawrence Complete Streets has set up a bike valet. Instead of locking your bike around a tree or bike rack, bring it to their booth where they will keep a close eye on it.
If you’d rather save on the sweat, consider taking the Lawrence Transit System. In honor of the Earth Day Celebration, the bus will be free all day. To plan your route, call (785)864-4644 or go online.
Take a class or a tour
The Earth Day celebrations aren’t just about eating the free vegan food and picking up brochures on the latest green technology. This year, there are a number of classes and presentations that participants can attend. Plan your day around the ones that catch your eye.
● From 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., a class will be held on the city’s fair housing and public accommodation laws at the South Park Recreation Center, 1141 Mass.
● From 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Westar Energy will present a do-it-yourself home energy audit class. The class, which costs $20, will teach homeowners how to identify energy leaks in their homes and fix them. The registration fee includes an energy savings packet and lunch. To register for the class, go to Westar's website and click on the Efficiency Works link or call Westar at 888-967-5750.
● At 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., a tree identification tour will be held in South Park, led by the city’s forestry staff.
● At 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., a stroll through the Butterfly, Rose and Japanese Friendship gardens will be led by the city’s horticulture staff.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
There are plenty of opportunities to practice what folks are preaching in South Park.
Cans for the Community is asking that participants bring in their aluminum cans. In honor of Earth Day, they hope to gather 5,000 pounds by the end of the month, with proceeds going back to a Lawrence nonprofit.
And, you can pick up a free compact fluorescent light bulb at the Take Charge Challenge booth. The bulbs, which are far more efficient than incandescent ones, are one way to help Lawrence win the Take Charge Challenge competition against Manhattan.