It's become an annual tradition. Earth Day drew hundreds to Elmwood Park Saturday.
Music, vendors and activities for the kids were all geared toward the green. It’s a movement locals say is still going strong.
While hand drums played in the background, four year-old Gracie McKenna and her six year-old sister Ellie got their faces painted. While their dad, Luke McKenna, watched, he said, “It’s just great weather, something for the kids to do.”
For the kids, rock climbing and seed planting, not to mention dancing to the music. For the adults, vendors to browse and massages were part of the fun.
Connie Matherly, who came with her kids and friends, said, “We just wanted to come out. It's a beautiful day, and come be a part of something where we're celebrating natural living and just learning about how to help take care of our earth."
In that spirit, organizers put up a makeshift parking lot for bicycles for the first time. They encouraged people to pedal their way to the park, and many did. There was a booth with information on Omaha’s expanding bike trails which had a steady flow of people.
For drivers, there was a showcase of Smart cars for cleaner emissions. And the event itself was powered in a new way this year. Eric Williams, President of Omaha Bio-fuels Coop explained.
"The electric generators for the stage and for the food vendors run on diesel, and this year they're using 20% bio-diesel blend which has drastically reduced emissions, specifically carbon dioxide, sulfur and particulate matter," he said.
Carbon-dioxide absorbing plants were handed out as well, along with anti-littering and pro-recycling messages from Keep Omaha Beautiful.
It was a lot of Luke McKenna to take in, but he said it made an impact. “Yeah, I think I might go a little greener now, coming here."
His daughter, Ellie, had other priorities. "Um, getting ice cream," she said with a grin.
Belly dancers and hula hoops also proved to be big draws for the littler set. “We've sat here forever,” laughed mother of two, Kasey Otto. “They've really been entertained with this."
Earth Day Omaha was just the beginning of a series of activities leading up to World Environment Day June 5th. Omaha was the North American host for the event last year, and is actively involved again this year.
Groups with upcoming eco-friendly events can sign on, to be part of the United Nations effort. Visit www.omahaennvironmentday.com for more information.