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Celebrate Earth Day in Central Park

April 14, 2009 - by City Guide

Established as a response to growing concern about the degradation of the Earth’s environment, the very first Earth Day was commemorated on April 22nd, 1970. Over 20 million people participated that year, and now more than 500 million people and governments in 175 countries observe the day every year on April 22nd, 2009 should be no different.

Central Park -- one of the greenest places in the entire world, and certainly New York City -- will be holding their celebration of Earth Day on Sunday, April 26th, from noon to 4pm, rain or shine. The day’s activities include live performances, planting and mulching projects, tree-care and composting demonstrations, environmental education, and crafts with recycled materials. Scheduled performers include kids entertainer Billy B., the Puppeteers’ Cooperative’s Rites of Spring colossal puppet show, Forces of Nature dance theater’s Rhythm Tree and Ancestral Earths African dance, and spoken-word artist Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai. And attendees will be playing an integral role in these performances as the Central Park Conservancy’s Green Fleet bicycles will help pedal the Park’s first-ever human-powered sound system into life.

Other activities include: mini-landscape planting and container decorating with the Conservancy’s Environmental Stewardship Committee, allowing you to take a piece of Central Park home with you; tree-climbing and knot demos with Josh Galiley, the Conservancy’s Tree Care Expert; mulching and flower planting; walking tours to Central Park’s “quiet zones” with Gordon Hempton, the author of One Square Inch of Silence; an “Art of Reuse” craft workshop with Materials for the Arts; wildlife corridor games with the park’s famous Urban Park Rangers and Cornell Cooperative Extension; and food-waste composting demos and electronic-waste recycling provided by the Lower East Side Ecology Center. Local and organic snacks will also be available for purchase from some of the area’s top Greenmarket vendors, including Red Jacket Orchards and Bread Alone.

The Earth Day event in Central Park is free and for all ages. Most activities will take place in the Central Park Bandshell; enter the park at East or West 72nd Street. For more information, call 212-360-1461 or visit centralparknyc.org.

Even if you can’t make it for the Earth Day festivities, Central Park is a must-see on anyone’s visit to New York City. Some of the park’s highlights include: Belvedere Castle (79th St., south of the Great Lawn, 212-772-0210), a famed, whimsical landmark that is home to the Henry Luce Nature Observatory, a permanent interactive exhibit focusing on how to observe, record, and identify the plants and wildlife that exist in Central Park’s rich and diverse natural habitats; the Central Park Carousel (mid-Park at 64th St., 212-879-0244), a nostalgic, turn-of-the-century merry-go-round that’s open daily, weather permitting; the Central Park Zoo (Fifth Ave. btw. 63rd & 66th Sts., 212-439-6500; centralparkzoo.com)—from a steamy rain forest to an icy Antarctic penguin habitat, the zoo features natural tropical, temperate, and polar environments with dozens of fascinating animals, from leafcutter ants to polar bears, plus monkeys, sea lions, and cute penguins; the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center in Cen­tral Park (110th St. & Lenox Ave., 212-860-1370), which provides year-round environmental education and visitors’ programs. They also host free workshops, performances, and events that highlight the beauty of Central Park and the vitality of its surrounding neighborhoods. Bird­watching, fishing, ecology, and horticulture explorations are just a few of the family and youth activities available through the Discovery Center; Sheep Meadow (66th to 69th Sts. on the west side of the park), a lush, 15-acre quiet zone open for passive play and skyline admiring; Strawberry Fields (71st to 74th St. near Central Park West), the 2.5-acre Interna­tional Garden of Peace dedicated to the memory of John Lennon; and the Tisch Children’s Zoo (Fifth Ave. btw. 64th & 65th Sts., 212-439-6500), a wildlife center that echoes and reinforces the pastoral landscape of Central Park by creating a rustic Enchanted Forest with soft paths and native plantings. Youngsters will love the bewitching area, which suddenly unfolds into a magical place filled with birds flying freely overhead, contained in a virtually invisible net suspended in the trees, and a petting zoo.

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