Kids in Park Ridge learn what on earth they can do to help
Tristan Lebourhis, a fourth-grader from Washington School, is superhero Captain Green Team, "saving the earth from pollution." The Park Ridge Park District hosted an Earth Day Celebration on April 28 at Maine Park Leisure Center. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Tim
Updated: June 4, 2012 11:24AM
When Smokey the Bear, slithering snakes and dirt-covered gummy worms are found under one roof, it’s a guaranteed good — and “green” — time.
Those are a few of many highlights at the Park Ridge Recreation and Park District’s Earth Day celebration April 28 at Maine Park, 2701 W. Sibley Ave.
Looming rain clouds had forced the day’s activities indoors for only the third time in the park event’s two-dozen-year history, reported Recreation Coordinator Julie Greve. Yet that didn’t prevent a mostly kid crowd of 400 from exploring what it means to be eco-friendly.
Donna Sitkiewicz attended the event with her 10-year-old daughter and mother, a member of the Park Ridge Gardening Club.
The April 22 holiday, she said, is a good opportunity “to expose kids to planting and taking care of the earth.”
Plus, Sitkiewicz was on the lookout for ways to eat healthier and locally grown food. Her family had tried participating in a food co-op a few years ago, she said, but the quantity was more than they needed.
She came to the Earth Day celebration in hopes of learning about new vendors and was in the right place. Dozens of local businesses, from birdhouse artists to licensed health professionals to energy-saving organizers, formed an informational and interactive bazaar for adults and children in the hallways of Maine Park.
Colin Stanton passed out more than 200 organic bananas to promote Door to Door Organics, a grocery-delivery service based in Chicago that brings fresh, organic produce and locally produced goods to homes and workplaces.
“We don’t just take food from your local grocery store and deliver it because it’s more convenient,” he said. “We find those good foods for you from small-business people to support a healthier lifestyle.”
Helen Hollis has a garden full of fresh vegetables and herbs. Her daughter, Lauren, 8, helps with its upkeep and wants to be a scientist someday.
Hollis and her husband brought Lauren to the park that day for its environmentally themed activities, like veggie-art painting. At home the mom-and-daughter pair reuse items in creative ways instead of throwing them away. For example plastic grocery bags are braided together to create jump ropes.
“It’s not just about recycling,” Hollis said. “Sometimes it’s repurposing.”
She added: “Every one person does make a difference.”
Greve said Earth Day events help remind the community about the need for caring for the planet.
“It’s a platform we’re able to use to educate people about the earth, how to preserve the earth, and what the earth has to offer.”
The Park District hosted multiple hands-on games and crafts for children to literally put them in touch with the environment.
Daniella LoPiccolo, 6, created organic tree art with branches, twigs, reeds and leaves.
But she, along with dad Mark and younger brother Jaco, came for the “scales and tales” animal show. Daniella was so excited that she already planned a visit back.
“I’m going to have my birthday party here,” she said.