Riverbank Beyond Earth Day was hosted at Jacob Myers Park on Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is held annually to encourage an Earth-friendly community and inform people of their responsibility as caretakers of the planet.
Earth Day Coordinator, Dotty Nygard stayed busy making the announcements for the popular rubber duck race and keeping everyone informed about the ongoing festivities.
Among the line-up of activities was the duck race on the Stanislaus River that is a fundraiser for the Friends of Jacob Myers Park to help with improvements and upgrades in the park. The Earth Day committee planned to have five heats in the duck race, with local firefighters usually tapped to retrieve the bright yellow ducks from the water after each heat. But the fire department was dispatched on a call so the first duck race was postponed. Two members from the Friends of Jacob Myers Park, Gary Vacarro and Scott McRitchie, stepped up to retrieve the ducks so the races could continue even without the firefighters on scene.
The ducks are dropped into the river from the top of the Stanislaus River bridge overlooking the park and then float down the river to a finish line. Nygard kept reminding everyone to be careful when standing by the river because the river was cold, very high, and running swiftly.
Attendees Luis Uribe, Elizabeth Becerra, and son Cristian purchased eight ducks to participate in the race on the river. This was the first time the couple has attended the Earth day event but wanted to bring Cristian to the event to learn about the Earth, along with having fun rooting on their ducks in the race.
Bailo Terapia led by Lydia Jimenez performed a Zumba routine for the guests that attended the event. The music was playing and the movement was continuous.
The Riverbank High School Drama Club was also there and performed ‘Under the Sea’ from the Little Mermaid multiple times throughout the day. Al Scoles, stage craft and construction teacher, accepted a check on behalf of the RHS Drama Club from the Beyond Earth Day Committee.
The entertainment also included a hula dance by Cultural Center Director Araceli Maile Delgado and one of her assistants. The Center had a booth at the park and played music on drums to entertain the visitors.
The Oakdale Shelter Pet Alliance (OSPA) had a booth set up and brought some four legged friends along that were available for adoption. Their mascot Spot the Dog was out participating in the festivities along with mascot Ricky Raccoon that the city brought along.
Bernie, a Lhasa Apso poodle mix was fortunate to find a permanent home and was adopted at the event. The OSPA issued several vouchers and shared spay/neuter information with all the guests that stopped by their booth.
At 2 p.m. they announced the winners for the raffle prizes, science project, and art contest.
Ballet Folklorico Viva Mexico from Riverbank participated in the “green” project contest and they won $500 for their organization. The younger dance students made piñatas out of recycled materials and the older students made folders, wallets, pencil cases, and a lunch bag out of Capri Sun drink pouches.
The winners from the four duck race heats received $100.
The Riverbank Community Gardens and Farmer’s Market booth had veggie boxes, cactus boxes and a table set up for kids to plant flower or vegetable seeds to take home in a recycled pot.
Riverbank FFA Chapter had a booth set up and sold vegetables and flowers. Another activity they had for the kids was face painting at the Fitness Evolution booth.
New to Earth Day this year was a nature trail walk provided by the Boy Scouts of America. The young tour guides would escort each person down a nature trail. After the trail was completed there was a quiz to take for a chance to win a prize in a raffle.
“People were pleased to have the boy scouts take them on the trail,” said Nygard.
Councilmember Darlene Barber-Martinez helped out in a food tent serving chicken tacos and quesadillas, fruit cups, and beverages, along with other volunteers from the Riverbank Community Gardens.
“I think the Earth Day event was awesome with a really good turnout,” said Barber-Martinez. “I had an awesome time.”
When Barber-Martinez wasn’t working in the food tent she was out thanking every booth participant for being there.
The event had over 25 booths, a variety of entertainment, and several sponsors that returned from prior years.
“I think we had more people this year than last year,” said Nygard. “It was a really good turn out.”
Nygard is already planning for next year. The Earth Day Committee will have a meeting Friday, May 3 to discuss the event and what they can do better next year in 2014.
“I love it,” said Nygard. “It’s (Earth Day) a great sense of community.”