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Beyond Earth Day A Blast
Six-year- old Trevor Juarez and his younger sister Kaylee were having a fine old time at Riverbank's Beyond Earth Day. They were digging in the dirt with their hands and planting small green seedlings to carry home.

On Saturday, there were people all over the Galaxy Theater's east parking lot hugging little pots with seedlings. It seems that Gilton, the same company that handles solid waste disposal in this area, has a resource recovery division that makes and sells a planting mix and soil addition made from naturally composted organic ingredients or waste.

Adults were having fun, too. Daryl Daniel, who owns Sno-White Drive-Ins in Riverbank and Oakdale, was grinning ear to ear as he test-drove a gas and electric powered Toyota Prius.

"If I could sell enough burgers, I'd certainly buy a hybrid vehicle," he joked, always the businessman. "And I'd use it to pick up and deliver more burgers."

Toyota had hauled in a van offering press-button video shows on its hybrid vehicles and brought examples of all three models including the Toyota Prius, the HSD (hybrid synergy drive) Camry and a 2006 sports utility vehicle called the Highlander.

To conserve fossil fuels and save the air by cutting tailpipe emissions, Toyota has been researching hybrid vehicles for many years and debuted its first model in Japan in 1997.

Introduced in the United States in 2000, the Prius was the first gas and electric-powered car created, is the most popular hybrid sold in the States and has sold more than a million vehicles around the world, said a Toyota representative.

The hybrid vehicle has an electric engine that takes the vehicle from 0 to 40 mph and then combines with the gas engine for higher speeds. The electric engine handles coasting and stopping. Braking recharges the generator so there is never any need "to plug it in" somewhere.

Despite the scorching weather, Beyond Earth Day drew a happy crowd to a show that encouraged visitors to plant more trees, replace old-fashioned light bulbs, install energy efficient household machinery like clothes washers and natural gas furnaces, recycle paper, plastic, glass and cans, take public buses or even bicycle to work and so on.