CITYWIDE — This weekend, celebrate the whole wide world without leaving the city. Festivals for Earth weekend are being held from the Santa Monica Pier to the Santa Monica Mountains.
The weekend kicks-off with the monthly “Nothin’ But Sand” beach cleanup hosted by Heal the Bay from 10 a.m. to noon on the beach just north of the pier. The cleanup occurs every third Saturday of each month, but is expected to be larger and more productive this time as it coincides with the pier’s Earth weekend festivities.
“We just expect a larger crowd,” said Eveline Bravo, beach programs manager for Heal the Bay. “We try to bring out better raffle prizes.”
In addition to Heal the Bay’s prizes, the first 200 people to bring six empty plastic bottles to the cleanup will receive a Clear2Go water bottle from the Clear2Go company.
“Clear2Go is a portable, reusable water bottle with its own replaceable filter that is doing its part to save the earth one bottle at a time,” said Drew Cary, a spokesman for Clear2Go.
The cleanups don’t end at noon, however. The pier aquarium, which is backed by Heal the Bay, will continue to have beach cleanups throughout the weekend.
“For anyone looking to meet their Earth day criteria, it’s really fun spending two hours on the beach giving back to the ocean environment,” Bravo said.
The aquarium is offering its own incentive to clean — free admission to the aquarium and its events.
“We’ve got a variety of different events happening,” said Tara Treiber, education manager at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.
An art exhibit at the front of the aquarium displays art created solely from washed up trash and items found along the water line.
Treiber feels the most popular attraction will be the aquarium’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV), available from 11 a.m. — 5 p.m. The ROV captures images from underwater that can be seen by those operating it from the pier.
“Families and children can pilot it under the pier,” Treiber said. “It tends to get a lot of people out there.”
Treiber is also counting on the sea lions to gather a large crowd, and said she’s hoping for about 500 attendees.
“We never know because it’s a weather dependent thing down here,” she said.
The pier is also providing information about marine protected areas, a state initiative that would essentially create protected state parks under water. Staff scientists will explain their importance and their purpose in an effort to garner more support for the parks.
Of course, the most popular attraction inside the aquarium is the mischievous octopus that flooded the aquarium several weeks ago.
Children in kindergarten through second grade were encouraged to create artwork demonstrating what the octopus did after everyone went home. Kids from grades three to five were asked to write a story describing how the octopus flooded the aquarium and why. The winners will be announced on Sunday at 11 a.m., and their work will also be on display.
“In honor of [the popularity], we decided to turn it into a contest,” Treiber said.
Earth day activities are not limited to the beach, however. The Topanga Earth Day Festival is celebrating all weekend long with live music, a creek cleanup and an interactive children’s area.
“Every year there’s an annual Topanga Creek and berm cleanup,” said Molly Drobnick, who does publicity for the event and organizes speakers and hospitality.
Rosi Dagit, a turtle researcher and scientist, is leading the group of volunteers, teaching them about local ecology.
“There’s a children’s area that features ecological themed performances,” Drobnick said. “It teaches kids about sustainability.”
Like the pier, the Topanga festival also features a fine art gallery.
“A lot of those artists have been shown at Santa Monica-based galleries, but really they’re national and international artists,” Drobnick said.
One example of the artwork shown is a line of clothes made out of plastic bags, Drobnick explained.
“Last year we had 5,000 [people]. We’re hoping for that, hope for more,” Drobnick said.
Each day of the festival is started off with yoga led by internationally-known yogi Sean Corne. Bringing in the day with yoga puts people in a good mindset for the festival, organizers said.
The pier aquarium is asking for a $5 donation from every person, although the minimum fee is $2. The Topanga event asks for a donation of $10, though Drobnick said this guideline is malleable and suggested a donation of some trees would more than suffice.
Additionally, two thirds of the money earned at the festival will go to various nonprofit organizations.
“The main purpose of the festival is to give back,” Drobnick said.
The California Wildlife Center, based in Malibu, is the primary recipient of the donations. Drobnick said that due to a lack of funds, the center may have to close.
“They rescue, rehabilitate and release injured, hurt, sick or abandoned wildlife only native to the So-Cal area,” she said.
For those really focused on reducing their carbon footprint, the Big Blue Bus provides an efficient alternative fuel ride to the various Earth weekend festivities. The buses are listing environmental fun-facts on the reader board located at the front of the bus in support of Earth Day.
The aquarium is located below the carousel on the pier, and is open to the general public. Call (310) 393-6149 for more information. The Topanga festival is held at the Topanga Community House Fair Grounds at 1440 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd. Visit www.topangaearthday.org for event details.