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Healthy Planet Environment Takes Center Stage
Many visitors were carrying off potted plants and seedlings, like last year, to improve their gardens from Saturday's Beyond Earth Day celebration. But there also were a variety of booths ranging from the City of Riverbank to Gilton Solid Waste Disposal Company and small farms like Rodin, Dutch Hollow, and Pure Valley Honey Bees to draw the curious. That plus entertainment by a bevy of magicians and music by local songstress Luna J and Bob Eden of Otter Bob Productions made for a rewarding day. This year, festivities were moved to Jacob Myers Park from the previous location atGalaxy12 Theatres.

"Because Galaxy was a smaller venue, it seemed more crowded. But we gave out all 600 of the Save Mart grocery bags and 500 biodegradable water bottles. I reckon we had 1,200 to 1,400 people attend this event," said City Manager Rich Holmer, who was running the city's water tasting booth.

Extolling the sweetness of the municipal tap water, he noted 131 samplers on a blind test preferred the city water to bottled varieties, 66 for Crystal Geyser and 47 for Fuji Water.

"It was a great day. I was there all day," he added. "The magicians were entertaining. And the two young women who sang were really good."

One of the most popular booths with a long line of children featured a sno cone machine powered by the solar panels of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Modesto Irrigation District (MID) too was using the power of the sun to run small fans.

The local Morris Nursery had an extensive display of plants, fertilizers, soil nutriments and other garden necessities.

"I even found out what's wrong with my plum tree," said Holmer.

Top winner of the children's poster contest was Tabitha Bandy, a student at Standiford School in Modesto. She will receive either a bicycle or an Ipod and see her design used on the shirt for next year's event. More than 400 children took part in the annual poster contest and over 100 people wearing this year's design participated in the run.

The tire collection company brought in 380 discarded tires or twice the number received last year.

MID had a display of the old incandescent light bulbs and the new, energy-saving fluorescent bulbs. The 13-watt fluorescent bulb is equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent.

"In other words, they use 75 percent less power to put out the same amount of light," said spokesperson Kerry Hoffman.

Pure Valley Honey Bees of La Grange, located between Merced and Chowchilla, was selling jars of honey and nuts bottled in honey.

Gilton Solid Waste Disposal of Modesto was using compost compiled from their green waste containers for bedding seedlings that children were planting in pots.

The annual event was created by local activists to create awareness of the environment, promote the wellbeing of the planet, and encourage the preservation of natural resources.