Community members are invited to celebrate and appreciate their environment at Alameda's 15 annual Earth Day Festival, set to take place April 26 at Washington Park. The theme of this year's event is "Feel Your Power," and organizers hope residents will turn out to learn about lifestyle changes that can help the environment.

"It's like a one-stop shop, so you can get lots of information regarding steps for change that are Earth-friendly," said Patrick Russi, recreation supervisor for the Alameda Recreation and Park Department. "This is the goal -- to help individuals and families be better stewards of the Earth."

In addition, there will be plenty of free activities for kids and adults, including fun games and exhibits led by the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of Alameda that focus on easy ways to build a clean and sustainable environment. Entertainers with Cotton Candy Express will dance, sing and share games with children at the event.

"For the kids, there also will be several jump houses," Russi explained, "and Rocket the Bike," which is a bicycle that powers a paint-filled spinner inside a drum and creates colorful patterns on paper.

"Alameda Municipal Power will give away superhero capes that kids can get stickers for at the different booths," he added. "The city's Youth Activities Committee will set up booths, too, to sell food like pizza and hot dogs."


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Some vendors from the Alameda Farmers' Market will sell treats at the event, as well. The traditional farmers' market will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., a few blocks away at Webster Street and Haight Avenue.

Community members also can join cleanup efforts nearby at the Crab Cove Visitor's Center and Crown Memorial State Beach, organized by the East Bay Regional Park District. The cleanup starts at 8:30 a.m. April 26 at Crab Cove. After 10 a.m., staff at Crab Cove will be on hand to help visitors learn about the park's natural habitats and enjoy other Earth Day activities.

"Usually about 100 people come out to Crab Cove, and it's like a startup activity for Earth Day," said Russi. "The volunteers spread out from Crab Cove down Crown Beach to pick up trash. Though there are several beach cleanups throughout the year, it's always good to do more for the beach area."

The East Bay Regional Park District, naturally, couldn't agree more. "It's important for everyone to care for the Earth, and this is one way people can help the park district do so on Earth Day and everyday," explained EBRPD spokeswoman Emily Hopkins. "We invite everyone to come to the educational programs that day and at other times, too."

According to Russi, some beach cleanup volunteers will receive a free Chinook coupon book with discounts for local, sustainable merchants as a thank-you gift for their efforts.

At the Earth Day Festivals, sponsors will give residents tips on how to cut down on waste, but also information on ways they can make become more active and make healthier choices in general, says Russi. The Alameda Recreation and Park Department, for example, will pass out details on summer classes, programs and trips for both children and adults.

The Earth Day event is sponsored by Alameda Municipal Power, Alameda County Industries, City of Alameda Public Works Department, Alameda Recreation and Park Department, and East Bay Regional Park District.

"It's put together through the collaboration of many city departments and other organizations. Plus, some vendors come out to promote Earth-friendly activities, including Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter."

If You Go
What: Earth Day Festival
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 26
Where: Washington Park, 740 Central Ave.
Cost: Free