by Max Marbut
Earth Day began in 1970 and marked the beginning of the movement toward conservation, recycling, energy efficiency and generally taking care of the planet.
The Landing had a five-day head start on this year’s official observance when the Downtown riverfront shopping and entertainment center hosted its 20th annual Earth Day celebration Saturday. More than 80 vendors were on hand to distribute information about how to preserve the natural ecology.
Radio Disney, one of the sponsors, brought Jasmine, a singer who was billed as “Disney’s next big thing.” She performed on stage in the courtyard and also greeted fans and autographed CDs.
The big surprise of the day was when about 40 members of the local public relations community wearing football-style T-shirts emblazoned with the number “15” converged in the courtyard in front of the stage and performed a “Tim Tebow” dance that was videotaped and posted on YouTube. It was part of an effort to send 1 million T-shirts to people in Africa and the public relations team hopes the video might be seen on ESPN Thursday night during the telecast of the NFL Draft.
Christi Veleta, a program administrator with the City’s Environmental and Compliance Department, said she remembered what she was doing on the first Earth Day in 1970.
“I was in Hammond, Indiana, and we spent the day cleaning up a riverbank,” she said. “Little did I know at age 13 I’d be in environmental services for a career.”
Landing General Manager Janice Lowe said while it’s impossible to have an accurate head count at a free event, “I’m sure there will be at least 10,000 people here throughout the day.”
City Parks Naturalist Supervisor Jean Schubert brought replica animal skulls to Earth Day at the Landing.
Landing owner Toney Sleiman was decked out for the occasion.
Marla Buchanan from GreenEdge was giving away potted flowers and telling people about organic fertilizer made of a byproduct from JEA wastewater treatment facilities.
Jasmine, billed as “Disney’s next big thing,” entertained fans and later autographed her latest CD.