Councillors, Hippies Dance, Eat and Frolic
Earth Day in Cambridge
College students, families, '60s holdovers and Cambridge residents from all walks of life gathered on the banks of the Charles River yesterday afternoon to eat and dance away the afternoon in honor of Earth Day.
In a lavish yet ecologically aware celebration that lasted all afternoon and drew hundreds of merry-makers to the stretch of Memorial Drive between Western Ave. and JFK St., 43 environmental groups set up booths on the sidewalks to sell food, clothing and knick-knacks, and present information.
On the two sound stages erected on either end of the stretch of riverbank, speakers and musicians entertained the on-lookers, some of whom reclined on the grass while others danced or strolled about.
The event, which was sponsored by the City Council, also featured a display of solar-powered cars from MIT, and a 70-foot tree made from recycled paper bags. At the "kid's corner," youngsters played in a sand box and got their faces painted as their parents sampled the wide spectrum of foodstuffs available, which included baked goods, meat items and algae.
In a pre-recorded statement about the day's fun, coordinator Marianne Donnoly said that the purpose of Earth Day was to "educate ourselves and play all day with 50 environmental groups."
"There will be healthy food and drinks, but no unnecessary vending," she stated in the message. Groups in attendance included Greenpeace, the environmental advocacy organization Conservation Law Foundation and the Boston Vegetarian Society.
Councillor Edward N. Cyr attended the event with his young children, wearing a sporty red sweatshirt that was a departure from his usual jacket and tie. Asked to comment, Cyr responded, "This is wonderful! Instead of comments we should all be dancing."
Meghan S. Brown, 11, was helping at a bake sale table to raise money for the Harvard Hillel Children's School. Brown, who said she trains for such events by selling baked goods on the street in front of her Cambridge home, said she was pleased with the festivities. "We have lots of money, and we've only been here 15 or 20 minutes," Brown said early in the afternoon.
On the two sound stages, poets, performers and speakers played to the crowds, as a volunteer translated it all into sign language.
Cambridge resident Earl Lafontant, of the Haitian, advocacy group Club CIBAO, spoke about the problem of toxic dumping in Haiti and other foreign countries. He said that the U.S. had transformed the small Caribbean nation into "a dumping ground for foreign toxic waste" in recent years.
The Cambridge kids' dance and singing group Kic-It performed a number called "The Sunshine Song" for on-lookers. "So be kind to the flowers, turn on the solar power, 'cuz sunshine is for free," sang the group of half-a-dozen elementary school students.
Dana E. Franzen of Somerville attended the event to disseminate information about his group, Cambridge Love-In Franzen, who sported a pince-nez, nearly waist-length hair and a top hat, said that the people who attended Earth Day yesterday were "receptive in comparison with the way they usually are, which is not at all."
However, he voiced approval for the celebration.