Festivities set to honor Earth Day

Finding ways to celebrate Mother Earth and to recycle, upcycle and preserve its precious resources are the themes of Earth Day celebrations planned around the region.

One of the largest area events planned for Earth Day, known as Earth Day Tampa Bay, got its start as EcoFest at Learning Gate Community School in Lutz.

One shopper can collect 500 bags in a year, according to this depiction of the concept that was seen walking around at last year’s Earth Day Tampa Bay, also known as EcoFest, at Lowry Park.
(Courtesy of Learning Gate Community School)

Now, in its eighth year, the event has become Tampa’s signature Earth Day event, and it has grown into a collaboration between Learning Gate, the University of South Florida Office of Student Affairs and the City of Tampa.

The event is set to take place at the Lowry Park Zoo Bandshell area, at 7525 N. Boulevard, in Tampa, on April 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission and parking are free.

Thousands of people typically attend the event to learn the latest in earth-friendly practices and products, and to check out the fun activities offered for kids.

The event celebrates the principles of sustainability: Ecology, Equity and Economy. This year’s sponsors are Tampa Bay Water and Tampa Electric Co.

Planned highlights include a parkour agility course created by a participant in American Ninja Warrior, a kid-friendly Yoga Zone with classes, crafts, games and other fun activities.

Costumed superheroes will be roaming around; bands will be performing, and there will be plenty of chances to pick up some pointers on sustainable living.

Michele Northrup, organizer of the event, has been involved since the beginning.

“It’s going to be exciting this year,” said Northrup, noting “we have over 138 vendors.

“We have sustainability experts … We’ll have hybrid and electric vehicles. We have one vendor … who will demonstrate wind power,” she said.

The Owl Sanctuary will be bringing the beautiful owls that it protects, Northrup said.

There also will be interactive booths and chances for people to purchase everything from local honey to handmade soap to all sorts of other eco-friendly items, she said.

While EcoFest is expected to draw thousands to Lowry Park, Pasco County also is hosting an Earth Day celebration.

The family friendly event will take place at Crews Lake Wilderness Park, 16739 Crews Lake Drive in Spring Hill. It is scheduled for April 22, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We’re excited that the event will actually fall on Earth Day this year,” Lottie Kelley, event chair for Earth Day, said in a release. “This year, we’re adding the Suncoast Trail Earth Day Ride and Rick’s Raptor Rescue,” she said.

Other planned activities include:

  • Children’s crafts and education displays
  • An Interactive Water Ventures Learning Lab
  • A Florida native plants sale
  • Pet adoptions
  • A ladybug release
  • Upcycle vendors
  • An appearance by Spike, the 10-foot alligator from Croc Encounters
  • Household hazardous waste collection
  • Electronics recycling
  • A pill take-back program (for unwanted or expired medications)

Concessions will be sold by Mary Giella Elementary School as a PTA fundraiser.

Also, the University of Florida’s IFAS/Extension will offer two workshops: Rain Water Harvesting at 10 a.m., and Composting at 12:30 p.m. Preregistration is required for both workshops. Sign up online at Pasco.IFAS.ufl.edu/events_calendar.shtml.

To sign up, click on April and scroll down to event 1 of 2.

For more information about the festival, contact Keep Pasco Beautiful Coordinator Kristen King at (727) 856-7252 or kking@@pascocountyfl.net.

Published April 29, 2017

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