People, people everywhere on Earth Day

“It’s one of the biggest events of the year,” said coordinator Leanne Koehn.

Some 4,000 people attended Earth Day celebrations on Saturday at Memorial Peace Park in Maple Ridge.

“It’s one of the biggest events of the year,” said event coordinator Leanne Koehn. “Every year it gets bigger and better.”

She started as coordinator with a new planning committee four years ago, and this is the biggest event they have had yet.

The theme of this year’s Earth Day celebration was “Water, Water Everywhere,” borrowing from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

“We have to reinvent the festival each year,” said Koehn, explaining how there were water play stations for kids at the event this year, and entertainment by local artists in residence set to a water theme.

Water issues from Restoring Katzie Slough to the recent oil spill in English Bay were highlighted. She noted the earth is 71 per cent water, and 97 per cent of that is salt water. Of the small amount of fresh water that is available for consumption, 69 per cent is in glaciers or permanent snow cover.

“A small percentage can be used for drinking and irrigation,” said Koehn. “But it is also used for fracking.

“A lot of people don’t consider themselves environmentalists. We open their eyes a bit more, and make them more aware of issues,” said Koehn. “We raise awareness in a non-judgemental, non-preachy way.”

As with past Earth Day events, there was the family freecycle, and eight truckloads of “gently used” clothing, toys and books were collected, and distributed for free.

“People come in and take what they want,” said Koehn. “That spirit of generosity is transformative.”

Koehn said local musicians provided entertainment on three separate stages, set far enough apart that the sound did not compete to be heard. Those at the festival, or walking through the farmer’s market, could walk from one “zone of sound” to another.

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