By Mia Groeninger
This year’s annual Earth Day Festival took place last weekend at Alameda Park in downtown Santa Barbara. A wide array of festivities, including musical performances, food and drink, keynote speakers, and sponsored exhibitions lasted from 11am-7pm each day.
Cars packed the curbs, and drivers maneuvered their way through, searching for an empty spot. Bicyclists pedaled right through the entrance to the park, waving at the volunteers who kindly welcomed each newcomer.
Stepping onto the dirt path, my ears filled with the sounds of chatter, laughter, and children playing. A large group of people surrounding the stage burst into applause as actress and environmentalist, Jane Fonda, took the stage. As she spoke about moving California away from fossil fuels and the Big Oil Resistance Tour, she was met with cheers and shouts of encouragement.
Jane Fonda speaking at the 53rd Earth Day celebration (courtesy photo by CEC)
As I wandered deeper into the park, every inch was covered with booths, tables, and displays, each of environmental significance. Henna tattoos, soaps, jewelry, Avasol sunscreen, sunglasses, and so many more sustainable products lined the pathways.
Towards the back of the park was a food court with concessions by Santa Barbara Popcorn, McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, and Gipsy Hill Bakery to name a few. Adjacent to the stage was a beer and wine garden where guests enjoyed the beverages and live music playing throughout the day.
Children dashed through the hoards of people to the Kid’s Corner, and many gathered to check out the display of green cars and bicycles. On the right side of the park were a plethora of booths sponsored by environmental nonprofits, including Defenders of Wildlife, Climate Resilient SBC, and The Nature Conversancy.
I was pleasantly surprised by my first experience at the Earth Day festival. I was shocked by the turnout, and although impossible to list every single organization and company, each contributed to the beauty that this weekend brought the Santa Barbara community.
After four years of hiatus, thousands came out in support and were not only instrumental in the fun but more importantly the efforts toward a cleaner environment.
The first Earth Day celebration in Santa Barbara took place following the catastrophic oil spill of 1969. This event sparked action as people in a place so deeply connected to the ocean witnessed the spillage across the coast and its harmful impacts on wildlife. Several activists opened an environmental bookstore and the Community Environmental Council (CEC) on Anapamu Street. Several days after the opening, the CEC hosted its first Earth Day Festival in 1970. Learn more about the CEC and all their hard work here.
Mia is a local high school student and intern for edhat.com