Earth Day celebration Saturday

Rain or shine, and always free, the Marietta Community Earth Day Celebration is celebrating 20 years this Saturday. Kathy Ortt’s mother, Marilyn, helped found the event and now Kathy has been on the planning committee since 2014.

“We have all the activities set up under a canopy, so we’ll be there no matter the weather,” said Ortt. “We’ve had days that are 80 degrees and some really cool days. It’s fun either way.”

Question: How many years is this for the Marietta Earth Day celebration?

Answer: Twenty years. This is our 20th anniversary.

Q: I know your mom was involved in the start of this but how involved were you in the beginning? Do you remember the event in its early years?

A: I wasn’t as involved but I would go help with the Trash-to-Art contest.

Q: How has the event evolved over the years?

A: There are more organizations participating, setting up tables and activities. Now we try to get live music and we also bring the raptors in. We’ve done that for the last eight years. We try to continue to grow the activity stations and offer lots of ways you can learn about green technologies. We want the kids to enjoy being outdoors and for it to be crafty but education-oriented.

Q: I would guess that some of the environmental issues we’re talking about now might not have a part of the event 20 years ago.

A: Now we have a lot more solar displays and we make sure climate change is represented. The solar thing was probably more of a fringe idea 20 years ago and now it’s mainstream.

Q: What are some of the favorite activities at the event each year?

A: The kids always like doing shrinky dinks. We usually have about 20 activity stations where both adults and children can go. They can use repurposed material or plant seeds…once they do a certain number they can go to the front table and get a prize, which will be either a water bottle or T-shirt.

Q: Aside from the educational component, it sounds like people enjoy this as a good family outing and something to do together.

A: It gets the kids to unplug and get outside. They can do the things I used to do all the time growing up that a lot of people have gotten away from now. We debated doing this on Easter weekend but we thought there are probably kids coming to visit their grandparents and this will be something they can do together. Walmart will be there, they can dig for bugs, Woodsy the owl will be there, Pickering and other solar companies. They’ll have some neat interactive toys for kids to show that even toys can be powered by solar. We’ll also have High Schools That Rock performing, a drum circle and the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center. We’re not sure yet who they’re bringing but they usually have some type of owl and a hawk. To see them up close is really neat and the people who bring them know so much about them, if you have questions.

Q: How many people does it take to put this event on?

A: There are six or seven of us on the committee but then we have a number of people who come help for the day. The Marietta Civitan Club really helps us every year. They donate the tables and chairs and will help us set up tents.

Q: I know you’re there working, but is it a fun day for you, too?

A: It’s a little hectic but it’s fun, too. We get to see all the people having fun. There’s a nice, positive energy there. And it’s fun to do it at the armory, which is the perfect space.

Q: Your mom did so much for environmental causes. Do you think this event was one that was special to her?

A: I think it was. She really wanted to encourage more interaction with children and this event can expose them to information through fun activities. The other work she did was important but it was more for adults.

Q: What’s the main idea you want people to take away from this event?

A: For them to not only enjoy the outdoors but to just take time to appreciate what we have. They can also learn how we can change the things we do to help save and protect what we have. I think that’s important and we need to pass that on from generation to generation.

Kate York conducted this interview.

If you go:

¯ What: Marietta Community Earth Day Celebration.

¯ When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

¯ Where: Armory lawn, Front Street, Marietta.

¯ Cost: Free.

¯ Includes: Music, crafts and activities, informational booths, a visit from the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center.