Swan Lake-Iris Gardens is the perfect place to celebrate Earth Day on Saturday. Sumter Green sponsors the event each April to honor the Earth, recognize those who make a special effort to keep it clean and green, and encourage stewardship in its inhabitants. Flowers will be in bloom in the Bland Gardens on the north side of West Liberty Street, and the grass and trees should have that sheen of new growth.
Sumter Green Chairwoman Lynn Kennedy said she's been pleased with the number of businesses and organizations who'll be at the Earth Day celebration from 8 a.m. to noon in the Bland Gardens.
"A lot of people are really concerned about the environment," Kennedy said, "and it's good to see them making such a strong effort to keep it safe."
As of the middle of last week, she said, more than a dozen organizations had signed up to bring their products and projects to the celebration. Several are new to the event, and others are expected to sign up before Saturday's observance. Ideas, tips and even samples will be available to those attending Earth Day, Kennedy said, adding that there are activities for young people, all aimed at encouraging a "green" lifestyle, as well as plenty of displays that will be of interest to adults.
For example, Katie Altman-Goff, water resources agent with Clemson Extension, will provide information about reducing stormwater runoff, and she'll also have the rain barrels display. Barrels made and decorated by local students will be set up so that people attending Earth Day can vote for the one they like best. The purpose of the barrels is to catch rainwater from roofs or downspouts for use on lawns and gardens, thus reducing stormwater runoff and preserving municipal water.
Sumter High School art teacher Kristen Boegner and her students will be working on an art project using plants and recycled items as their media; and Sumter High teacher Cylisa Quarles, who's in charge of the school's Gamecock Gardens, will be out with her students with plants for sale. Walmart will have a plant display and give away seeds, and Sumter's Master Gardeners will demonstrate to home gardeners how they can fertilize their plants using earth-friendly materials.
Sun Solar's Richard McIntyre will have some solar energy equipment on display and will have information and answer questions about the growing industry that saves both energy and money. Poinsett State Park rangers will be on hand to answer questions and provide up-to-date information about their nature trails and the park's recent upgrades. Habitat for Humanity will have information about recycling and reusing items such as they sell at their Habitat Restore.
The city of Sumter's Charles Glasscho with water and wastewater services and Randolph Paige with sanitation will have exhibits on the city's recycling and other green practices in their areas. Penelope Carter will demonstrate how she makes her functional and decorative pine needle baskets with found materials, and Lutreanna Brown with Bath Fitters will have information on remodeling your bathroom with green products, as well as how to clean bathroom fixtures with environmentally friendly materials that won't damage them.
Eaton Corporation's Wayne Jones will have a "kids' corner" that will teach young people how to save energy by going green and will highlight some of the steps Eaton uses to conserve energy and protect the Earth. Mike Dellinger of the Farm Store will have his stand with organically grown food. Admission is free to Saturday's Earth Day celebration sponsored by Sumter Green; food and beverages will be available for purchase.
Entertainment for the celebration will be provided by some of Sumter School District's most talented student musicians. The performance schedule is:
8:30 a.m. - Shaw Heights Chorus
9 a.m. - Crestwood Drum Line
9:30 a.m. - High Hills Chorus
10 a.m. - Ebenezer/Hillcrest Band
10:30 a.m. - Manchester Chorus
11 a.m. - R.E. Davis Chorus
11:30 a.m. - Pocalla Choir