Jim Thorpe celebrates 16th annual Earth Day
CAJETAN BERGER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS A crowd gathered in Josiah White Park on Saturday to enjoy the 16th annual Earth Day Celebration in Jim Thorpe.
The town of Jim Thorpe was alive with activity on Saturday as the community and tourists gathered for the 16th annual celebration of Earth Day.
Penny Shelton, the assistant event coordinator for the Earth Day Celebration, spoke to the crowd before introducing the first band.
"I want to thank everyone, especially our staff, for endlessly contributing to this festival. Sixteen years says a lot about the importance of this event to the community," Shelton said.
Josiah White Park, Mauch Chunk Opera House, and Dimmick Memorial Library provided music and workshops from 9 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Attractions included local bands, informational booths, food and craft vendors, the Earth Day Auction, a rock climbing wall, a moon bounce, hula hooping contests, children's book readings, tai-chi, children's crafts, a children's costume parade and various educational workshops.
From 9 a.m. until noon a group of volunteers collected trash along the Lehigh River. Within an hour, a crowd had gathered to browse the many vendors and listen to the jams of Foolly Mammoth, Eclectic Circus, High Strung, Appalachian Gypsy Tribe, Boop Loomis, Analog Velvet and others.
Event coordinator Shelli Holland claims that the event has evolved substantially over the past 16 years.
"When we first started all we had were a few drums and a few tents and it just grew into this community event that people look forward to," Holland said as she busily attended to her responsibilities. "Now it's more like a group of friends getting together than anything else. It is great to get some sun and see all these people together."
Daytime activities attracted a diverse crowd of children and adults. Many parents brought their children to enjoy the fun. Paige Noble, 9, and her brother Austin, 6, were brimming with excitement to play on the moon bounce, listen to music and participate in the activities.
"I just love the music, especially because my Uncle Zach is playing," Paige said.
"It's fun and cool to love the Earth. Only a dummy wouldn't care about it," Austin said.
Bass player for Foolly Mammoth, Zachary Ammon, 20, thought of performing for the crowd as a chance to celebrate the Earth with the community.
"This event is a really nice way to celebrate my home planet with all of my brothers and sisters," Ammon said in an interview after the band completed its performance.
Locals were not the only people to turn out for the day's events.
"I think it is cool that small towns like Jim Thorpe have events like this that bring people together," said 21-year-old Janelle Richards of Coplay. She and her friends came to Jim Thorpe to visit Glen Onoko, but changed their plans to see what attractions the Earth Day celebration had to offer.
Stephen Marshal, a 37-year-old from New York City, who had come to Jim Thorpe to go trout fishing, was thrilled to see that the community had gathered to celebrate.
"It is really refreshing to relax in a quaint and open environment with some good tunes. The weather is wonderful and being with all of these people, gathered in love of the Earth, is a great thing," Marshal said.
A bar and café crawl commenced after the family-friendly events of the day ended at 6:30 p.m., and continued until 12:30 a.m. on Sunday.
The Earth Day Auction concluded Sunday afternoon, thus ending the celebration.
Sixteen years ago the first Earth Day celebration in Jim Thorpe initiated a long-standing tradition. Each year the event grows, and it has since exceeded Holland's expectations.
"I wanted to hold a festival that would educate people about respecting the Earth," Holland said. "I could not have imagined that the whole community would get involved with educating, learning, and caring about new ways to respect the Earth.