By Sally Deering
Itâ€™s been 25 years since Hudson celebrated the first Earth Day in Liberty State Park and on Sat, April 25 â€“ rain or shine — the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA), Friends of Liberty State Park, and local and state community activists will be at the waterfront park to enlighten local residents on ecological issues in Hudson and the world-at-large.
Earth Day 2015 will kick off at 10 am with a 5k Walk and Run through the park; and for the kids thereâ€™ll be Â kite flying, arts and crafts, inflatable rides, interactive games, contests and giveaways, with a steady flow of entertainers on the main stage; and refreshments, too. Hundreds of volunteers from city and state community groups and organizations will present displays on local and world-wide ecological innovations and reforms to inform visitors about the eco future.
“This year marks our 25th anniversary of Earth Day Celebrations here in Hudson County and since its inception, the goal has always been to raise environmental awareness among members of the community,â€ says Mary-Ellen Gilpin, Director of HCIAâ€™s Â environmental programs. â€œThe fair creates an opportunity for residents, young and old, to enjoy themselves while learning the importance of â€˜reducing, re-using and recyclingâ€™ and protecting our urban environment.â€
The Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA), founded in 1974, provides strategic planning and coordination of public policy initiatives on behalf of Hudson County municipalities and residents. The authority is responsible for a vast range of services including low interest financing for public and private initiatives, solid waste management, environmental education, recycling and transportation management, recreation services, and alternative energy initiatives.
From the 5K run/walk, to the informative displays and tents, and green communitiesâ€™ marketplace, Hudson residents will have a wide array of things to do and see at the fair, Gilpin says.
â€œView the winning posters drawn by students for our 9th annual Earth Day Calendar art contest, or make a pledge to help the environment at the â€˜Wishing Treeâ€™,â€ Gilpin says. â€œThis year will be the largest Earth Day Fair we have ever run. It is more important than ever to make sure our communities understand what resources are available in the county to help protect our environment, together.”
The national Earth Day theme this year is “Itâ€™s Our Turn to Lead” focusing on the unique environmental challenges facing our world, and especially our urban municipalities. All attendees at LSP are invited to visit the Wishing Trees to make a pledge to perform one act that can lead the way to make our Hudson municipalities “greener”.
“On behalf of myself and my fellow commissioners, I would like to invite you to join us in Liberty State Park for a celebration of 25 Years of Earth Day in Hudson County,” HCIA Chairman John L. Shinnick says. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to bring residents together to learn about the environment and spend time with their community. It’s a great day of free outdoor fun for the whole family.”
Exhibitors at Earth Day 2015 will include city and state government agencies, community groups, service organizations, health care service providers, â€˜greenâ€™ retailers and non-profits with ecological missions like Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy, Citizens Climate Lobby, Student Conservation Association, NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection, and the NY/NJ Baykeeper. The NY/NJ Baykeeper in Keyport offers eco cruises and kayak tours that launch from Keyport. Representatives from the NY/NJ Baykeeper will be at LSP to raise awareness to the needs within NY-NJ Harbor.
“Many residents throughout New Jersey don’t know how to access their waterways to use them for recreational purposes and learn more about their environment,â€ Sandra Meola of the NY/NJ Baykeeper says. â€œBaykeeper’s interactive kayak tours and eco cruises aim to connect the public to their waterways. By doing so, we advocate for the protection and preservation of our waterways within the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary.”
WALK FOR FRIENDS OF LSP; RUN FOR HC IMPROVEMENT
Â Friends of Liberty State Park is an all-volunteer, non-profit, 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to preserving, protecting, conserving and promoting Liberty State Park. Since 1988, it has advocated for the protection and improvement of this open space park, and more than 5 million visitors come annually to enjoy this recreational, natural, historic, and cultural public resource. It all began when local residents Morris Pesin and Audrey Zapp, and historic preservationist Ted Conrad led a citizensâ€™ movement to transform a waterfront wasteland of abandoned rail yards and decaying piers into a park. Sam Pesin, the son of Morris Pesin continues his fatherâ€™s advocacy as director of the Friends of Liberty State Park.
â€œEarth Day is a time for us all to celebrate Mother Nature and think about doing all we can to contribute to a clean and healthy environment,â€ Pesin says. â€œWe must all be activists in protecting the beauty, necessity and spiritual power of nature and open space.Â Liberty State Park is our great urban waterfront open space which enriches our urban quality of life.â€
At 11 am, following â€œWalk for LSPâ€ and the HCIAâ€™s 5K Walk/Run, a “Kids’ Kingdom” area will open with environment-themed displays, information on services available throughout Hudson, and tree seedlings, compliments of the NJ Division of Parks and Forestry.
Throughout the day, strolling entertainers like a juggling stilt-walker, â€œEarth Boyâ€, â€œBusterâ€, â€œWoodsyâ€ and â€œGarbage Goatâ€ will interact with festival-goers, and. DJ Mickey will emcee the stage acts. Hereâ€™s the line-up:
11 am-NoonÂ Race Award CeremonyÂ
12 pm-12:30Â Â DJ Mickey
12:30 1:15 Â Â Â Â Field Station: Dinosaurs:
â€œThe Dinosaur Troubadour and Mighty T-Rexâ€Â
1:15â€“ 1:30 Â Â Â Â DJ Mickey
1:30â€“ 2 pmÂ Â Â Â Carl Brister in Concert
2 pmâ€“2:15 Â Â Â Â DJ Mickey
2:15â€“ 2:45 Â Â Â Â Field Station: Dinosaurs:
â€œThe Dinosaur Troubadour and Mighty T-Rexâ€Â
2:45â€“ 3 pmÂ Â Â Â DJ Mickey
3 pmâ€“4 pm Â Â Â Â John Christian Band
Â When Hudson County Executive Thomas A. DeGise took office in November 2002, he made protecting Hudsonâ€™s local environment and remaining open space one of his top priorities.
“We want our kids to get out there and enjoy all the beauty that Hudson County has to offer,” County Executive DeGise says. “Celebrating Earth Day in Liberty State Park is an excellent way to help get our kids back-to-nature; while learning to protect our unique environment.â€
IF YOU GO:
Sat, April 25, 10 am-6 pm
25TH EARTH DAY CELEBRATION
Liberty State Park
200 Morris Pesin Drive
Hudson County Improvement Authority
Friends of Liberty State Park