MU’s Peace Park was a whirl of activity on Sunday as hundreds of people thronged the streets for the city’s Earth Day 2004 celebration.
For seven hours, parts of Elm, Seventh and Eighth streets were closed to traffic. According to organizers, this year’s events included more than 230 booths and two stages showcasing local musical talent.
The booths offered a range of activities from crafts for children to collecting signatures for petitions supporting environmental causes. Several information booths were also set up as part of an annual community volunteer fair.
Despite the blustery conditions, groups of friends and families were out in full force.
Belly-dance teacher Kandi Grossman, center, dances with students Christi Nies, left, and Frankie Medackwhile Peter Holmes plays the drum during the Earth Day celebration.
Wylden Drew Michael Bond and his family drove from Springfield to enjoy the Sunday’s events. The 9-year-old said he had so much fun last year, he asked his mom if the family could come again this year.
“It’s a weekend, a day off from school, and Mom decided to come here,” Wylden said. “Some of our family is here, and we’ve been having lots of fun.”
Wylden, who attends Robberson Elementary School in Springfield, participated in several activities for children, including using Kool-Aid to tie-dye a headband.
Many of the activities were designed to help young children learn more about nature and ways to care for the planet.
Wylden and his family arrived at Peace Park at noon, and by 2 p.m., he had painted his cheeks with lightning bolts and stuck temporary sticker tattoos on his forehead and cheeks.
Maria Howe, 31, also had her face painted, but for an entirely different reason.
“It’s a celebration of when I used to be a kid and I like to have fun; just because I’m 31 doesn’t mean I can’t have fun,” she said.
Her friend, Natasha Cornelius, agreed with her.
“It’s a tradition,” Cornelius said. “Every time I come to Earth Day and they have face-painting, I do it.”
Cornelius said the city’s Earth Day celebration has gotten a lot bigger since 1995 — the first year she attended the celebration.
“There’s different people every year,” she said. “People from Boonville come, people from other cities come, instead of just Columbia, which I think is really wonderful.”
Elisa Sims, a Columbia resident, has faithfully attended the event every year since its inception.
“I run into people I don’t see all the time; it’s kind of a social event. It serves a lot of purposes,” she said.
For Shawn Devoudrey, the event serves as a meeting place for musicians who share similar interests. For the last four Earth Days, Devoudrey has been playing drums at Elm and Eighth streets. Thirty to 40 people turned up with their drums to play at the event last year.
“The crowd is a lot bigger and it’s a lot more folks now,” Devoudrey said.