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Beyond Earth Day Draws Crowd
Learning how to do their part to help the environment, Riverbank residents and those from the surrounding area turned out in force for Beyond Earth Day, staged at the Galaxy 12 Theatre parking lot on Saturday in Riverbank.

From the Carnival of Chaos performers making their way through the crowd on stilts to magician Donny Crandell entertaining the crowd, there was plenty to do and see.

"I just like coming here," said 13-year-old Joseph Sandoval, who was watching as his younger brother Nathan, 8, assisted Crandell on stage. "You learn more and have fun."

Local residents Kent and Karon Taylor were enjoying the day, picking up information, learning how to reduce, reuse and recycle, and getting ready to ride the Trolley.

"I've always wanted to ride the trolley," Karon confessed.

Armed with some tickets for 'Ollie,' she and husband Kent were going to take a tour before the trolley is retired.

People had the chance to plant seedlings, take a water taste test, do a bicycle obstacle course, pick up plenty of information and more.

"We came out to learn about recycling," said Armando Silva, attending with his children A.J., 8, and Jessica, 10. They were taking advantage of a Gilton Sold Waste booth project offering plants to take home.

"This is my first time," Silva added. "It's great."

Daughter Jessica agreed.

"I want to learn about recycling," she said, "so our earth can live longer."

Representatives from the Riverbank Community Garden were also on hand to help children plant seeds to take home and grow and each booth was an opportunity to learn a little bit more about saving the planet.

"I was explaining recycling to them this morning," mom Jennifer Loftis said of her young daughters, Julia, 2, and Grace, 5. "We were recycling our plastic bags, I told them they could be turned in to something else."

City Manager Rich Holmer was staffing the water taste test booth, offering a couple of bottled water samples and a Riverbank city well water sample. He was happy to report the final results on Monday, with the Riverbank water scoring nearly 100 first place votes, compared to fewer than 50 for each of the bottled waters. Riverbank scored a 97, the California bottled water was favored by 47 people and 31 cast the vote for the most expensive "French entrant" of bottled water, said Holmer.

"We do have deep wells," he said. "We have wells from 300 to 600 feet deep and we thought, why not prove Riverbank water is better. It was an interesting, unbiased blind taste study."

Using tap water is cheaper and more environmentally friendly, he said, since you don't have to purchase plastic bottles that often end up in landfills.

"Use your tap, he said.

Norma Torres-Manriquez, one of the coordinators of the event, was happy with the turnout.

"We have a real good variety of vendors and organizations and the goal is to make it as family friendly as possible," she said. "This is the third year we've done it, we have a great group of helpers and the community really wants to see it here."

Torres-Manriquez said Beyond Earth Day is always happy to welcome new committee members and sent out a "huge thank you" to the vendors and participants in this year's events.