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Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival Attendance Tallied at 38,214

The CEC's weekend event featured the first-ever 'Ride & Drives' at the Green Car Show

The Community Environmental Council reported Monday that 38,214 people attended the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival over the weekend in Alameda Park.

Volunteer crowd counters at the festival’s six entry points tracked attendance for both days of the event.

This year’s theme was “Powered by the People,” aligned with the CEC’s Fossil Free by ’33 campaign, which emphasizes the power of daily choices in making Santa Barbara one of the first fossil-fuel-free communities in the nation.

On Sunday, on the solar- and biodiesel-powered Festival Main Stage, actress, filmmaker and environmental activist Daryl Hannah received the CEC’s 2011 Environmental Hero Award. James Cameron, Academy Award-winning director of Avatar and winner of the CEC’s 2010 Environmental Hero Award, presented the award to Hannah. Before the presentation, Cameron toured the Green Car Show, stopping at electric vehicle charging units and a solar carport.

“Environmental concerns, humanitarian concerns and the welfare of other species are all inextricably linked,” Hannah said. “You can’t be a humanitarian without being an environmentalist, and visa versa. We are deeply interconnected, and with the global crisis we currently face and we all need to be proactive. I’m thrilled that people in Santa Barbara are focusing their energy and thoughts to their community and ways to exist more harmoniously with the earth on these special days and I feel lucky to be part of it.”

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, also spoke briefly to the crowd on Sunday.

The CEC reports other excellent statistics for the 2011 Earth Day Festival:

» About 2,000 people arrived to the festival by bike; 1,130 bikes were valet parked and the remainder were self-parked.

» 523 people took a ride in alternative-fueled vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt, at the first-ever “Ride & Drives” at the 12th Annual Santa Barbara Green Car Show, the longest-running public-focused Green Car Show in the United States.

» Event organizers found a way to keep everyone hydrated without disposable water bottles with two Water Monsters, which take local tap water, filter it and serve it cold. This year, the Water Monsters went through 800 gallons of water which is equivalent to about 3,200 plastic bottles.

Festival sponsor MarBorg Industries handled all of the event waste and is sorting it this week. MarBorg will provide a waste diversion rate by the end of the month.

“It is an incredible testament to Santa Barbara and to the festival organizers that 38,000 people peacefully gathered with no major incidents and no arrests,” said Jeff Theimer of PlusOne Events, one of event’s production partners. “We enjoyed working closely with the various city departments to ensure a safe, fun and memorable event that worked for all of us.”

Sigrid Wright, associate director of the Community Environmental Council, agreed.

“The Santa Barbara community turned out in full force to support and learn about ways we can be Fossil Free by ’33,” she said. “We cannot thank our sponsors, our volunteers and our community enough. We’re getting very positive feedback that people had a great time. We hope everyone was inspired to make decisions in their daily lives that create a healthy environment and strong economy for us all.”

— Marjorie Wass is a publicist.

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