Earth Day, which occurs on April 22, is a day to stop and smell the roses – and honor our beautiful, precious planet and work to protect it. In Southern California, we celebrate with events throughout the month.
Be An Earth Star
Get an early start on Earth Day at the Children’s Earth Day event hosted by Star ECO Station (10101 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City; www.ecostation.org) from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 2. This festive day will be filled with student performances, rides, games and appearances by several Nickelodeon and Disney Channel stars. You can also meet some of Star Eco Station’s rescued wildlife. Admission is free, and donations made at the event will go toward the animals’ care.
Clean and Green
The Earth Day festival with the most unusual location is the L.A. County Department of Sanitation’s annual Earth Day Celebration, held at the department’s main office in Whittier (1955 Workman Mill Rd.; www.lacsd.org) from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. April 8. Visitors to this free event can tour a water-reclamation plant (where waste water is treated) and a material-recovery facility (where recycling is processed) and see how they work. More than 50 green vendors will be on hand offering environmental information, and there will be music and dance performances and eco-friendly arts and crafts. Bring used shoes to donate to Soles 4 Souls – which brings them to people in need.
Down By the River
The 28th Annual Great Los Angeles River CleanUp, organized by the Friends Of The L.A. River (FOLAR), takes place the last three Saturdays of April. On April 15, the Upper Basin including Bette Davis Picnic Area, Sepulveda Basin at Balboa Boulevard and Tujunga Wash at Haines Canyon Channel will be the focus. The April 22 cleanup covers the Mid River section – the Arroyo Seco Confluence, Bowtie Parcel at Fletcher Drive, The Frog Spot, Los Feliz Boulevard, Marsh Street Nature Park, Steelhead Park and Sunnynook Footbridge. On April 29, the Lower River including Compton Creek at Artesia Metro Station, Compton Creek at Del Amo Metro Station, Golden Shore Marine Reserve and Willow Street Estuary has a turn. Last year, 9,000 Southern Californians removed 70 tons of trash and FOLAR is expecting more volunteers this year. Register at www.folar.org/cleanup.
Marine Double Duty
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (3720 Stephen M. White Dr., San Pedro; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org) doubles up on its free Earth Day-related events. At the aquarium’s Sustainability Fest from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. April 15 you can learn to improve our planet’s health from a variety of local agencies and ecology organizations. You also can go on nature walks, explore the salt marsh and get tips from experts at sustainability “quick shops.” Earth Day itself will be “Take Action Day!” at the aquarium. Join CMA staffers in a big coastal cleanup from 9 a.m.-noon and learn about the harmful impact nurdles and other microplastics have on our ecology. To add a little fun to the trash pickup, contests are planned, with categories such as “most Styrofoam collected” and “most bottle caps found.”
Celebrate On the Sand
Heal The Bay also has a pair of Earth Day events. On April 15, there is a Nothin’ but Sand clean-up from 10 a.m.-noon on the north side of Santa Monica Pier. As a thank you, volunteers will get free admission to Santa Monica Pier Aquarium (1600 Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica; www.healthebay.org) beginning at 11 a.m. that day. The following Saturday, April 22, the aquarium throws an Earth Day party from 12:30-5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, free for ages 12 and younger accompanied by an adult. You can make a biodegradable planter, attend the interactive “Who Pollutes?” demonstration and, from 1-4 p.m., check out area wildlife at the aquarium’s observation station on the west side of the Santa Monica Pier. There will also be a 2 p.m. Earth Day-themed story time, followed by a live animal presentation.
A Grand Idea
If you’re in Downtown L.A. April 19, head over to Grand Park (200 N. Grand Ave., L.A.; www.grandparkla.org), where Earth Day L.A. takes place from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. At this free event, hosted by the Music Center and the L.A. Dept. of Water and Power, you can pick up helpful composting, water-conservation and energy-efficiency tips and enjoy educational performances, recycled art projects and kid-friendly yoga. You can even pick up a free tree to plant (while supplies last). Bring your e-waste to drop off and old eyeglasses to donate.
An Earth Day Exposition
The L.A. City sanitation department’s Earth Day L.A. event takes place at another downtown park (Exposition Park, 700 Exposition Park Dr., L.A.) on another day (April 22). This free celebration from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. is packed with fun and informational activities. Kids can play games and explore a variety of city vehicles. There will be live entertainment, educational exhibits, giveaways and prizes to win. You can enjoy free beverages and snacks (while supplies last) and free seeds (not to eat, but to take home to plant). RSVP at www.earthdayla.eventbrite.com.
Party Like a Polliwog
The Manhattan Beach Earth Day Festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year with a party from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at Polliwog Park (1601 Manhattan Beach Blvd., www.citymb.info). It’s a mix of family fun and community services. Come play games, dance to live music and see how well you do at the Eco-Quiz. At 1 p.m., the City of Manhattan Beach and Volunteers and Organizations Improving the Community’s Environment bestow this year’s Environmental Hero Awards. V.O.I.C.E. also will collect gently used, clean clothes and used prescription glasses, and the city will collect printer toner cartridges and batteries for recycling.
Down By the Sea
Get a little eco-education while visiting the marine life at the Aquarium of the Pacific (100 Aquarium Way; Long Beach; www.aquariumofpacific.org). The aquarium’s Earth Day Celebration from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 22-23 includes family-friendly, hands-on educational demonstrations and easy-to-do, everyday tips for protecting our environment. Find out what is happening with vaquita porpoise conservation and catch a screening of the nature documentary “Seasons.” Admission is $17.95 for ages 3-11, $29.95 for adults. Bring an e-waste item to recycle and receive a $10 discount on your adult ticket.
Stop By and Smell the Flowers
A lovely location for communing with nature is Descanso Gardens (1418 Descanso Dr., La Cañada-Flintridge; www.descansogardens.org). Its weekend Earth Day event from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 22-23 celebrates springtime. Soak in the colorful beauty at the California wildflowers installation, and if you find the flowers inspiring, join hands-on wildflower activity and gardening workshops from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. both days. On Saturday, there is a guided walk through the Oak Woodlands. Admission is $9 adults, $4 ages 5-12.
Honoring the Green Folks
Meet urban farmers and green chefs, see live performances and eco art during the Green Prize Festival (www.greenprizefestival.com) from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. April 22 at Houghton Park, 6301 Myrtle Ave., Long Beach. Organized by Green Education – a Long Beach-based organization working to create a greener, more energy efficient world – this free event also includes educational demonstrations, a home brew and cider competition, children’s activities and even a free bike valet. The festival’s centerpiece is the Green Prize itself, which will be awarded to individuals, businesses and organizations advancing sustainability within the city of Long Beach.
Sustainability at CSUN
The Cal State Northridge Institute for Sustainability (18111 Nordhoff St.; www.csun.edu/sustainability) has been working with students at 19 San Fernando Valley schools on a year-long project involving energy and water efficiency. On April 29, as part of the Institute’s free Family Earth Day Celebration from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., the elementary, middle and high school students will do their presentations. There will be games, giveaways, a lunch to enjoy and the planetarium to explore. The Theatre of Will will do water-related musical performances, and the Wildwoods Foundation will conduct a hands-on aqueduct-building demonstration. RSVP by visiting www.eventbrite.com and searching “Family Earth Day Celebration” so organizers know how many will be attending.
A Disney Documentary
For the 17th year, Disneynature will release a documentary to coincide with Earth Day. This year’s release, “Born In China,” follows the adventures of three animal families – pandas, monkeys and snow leopards – and provides an intimate look at parent-child relations in each. The film also takes viewers on a scenic journey to rarely seen parts of China, from a bamboo forest to icy mountains. The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund will make a contribution, based on the opening week’s attendance, to the World Wildlife Fund to help protect wild pandas and snow leopards in China. The film screens at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. April 21-30 at the El Capitan Theatre, 6838 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; www.elcapitantheatre.com. Tickets are $13 for adults, $10 ages 3-11.
Michael Berick is Calendar Editor of L.A. Parent.