Celebrations of the Earth and books are set to take center stage Friday at Memorial Park.
The Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department's Giving Tree Earth Day Celebration also honors World Book Day, which is Saturday, with a host of reading and nature-filled activities from 4-7 p.m. Friday at the park.
A smaller version of the event began last year, filling the void left when Serve Jeff City canceled its annual citywide cleanup event due to the pandemic, according to Leann Porrello, the JC Parks cultural arts specialist. Last year, the parks department hosted small trash pickup events throughout April with a celebration to wrap up the month. It drew about 800 people to the park.
"It kind of started last year with COVID and filling that need of picking up trash. This year, we'll have trash (pickup) supplies there, but this is more of a celebration," Porrello said.
With so much of Earth Day being centered around education, Porrello said it was a natural connection to add Saturday's World Book Day component into the celebration.
On Friday, which is the actual date of Earth Day, she said there will be plenty of activities for the whole family -- whether you're into books, the Earth or both.
Activities will include bookmark and bird feeder crafts from the Central Missouri Master Gardeners; an art contest and storybook trail sponsored by the Missouri State Parks Department; and donated books from Scholastic, Inc.
A highlight of the evening, Porrello said, will be a kite-flying contest. Participants are asked to bring their homemade or store-bought kite to the park. The contest is open to any age and will be judged based on overall creativity and ability to fly (weather permitting); extra points go to the homemade kites.
Food trucks, including JQ's on High Street, Wrap It Up and RJ's Italian Ice, will also be on site.
And Porrello said, the event doesn't stray too far from it's intended purpose: to clean up the city. The Missouri Stream Team will be set up at the park handing out trash pickup supplies in advance of Saturday's Serve Jeff City event, which is back for 2022 across the city.
"It's a family friendly event," she said of Friday's celebration. "I feel like there's a good balance of education, crafts and entertainment. Even if you're just stopping by to find some trash pickup supplies for the weekend, we know you'll find something to do."