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Alameda Park Gives Earth Day 2009 a New World Order

Record crowd of 16,000 throngs two-block park for Santa Barbara's showcase environmental festival

The Community Environmental Council’s annual Earth Day celebration was the hottest place in Santa Barbara on Sunday, thanks to 85-degree temperatures and throngs of people that totaled more than 16,000 by day’s end.

Held this year at Alameda Park, the festival drew a record number of spectators and vendors to the two-block location. Previous Earth Day festivals were held at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden, which had started to cramp the festival’s growing popularity.

“It’s turned out far better than we expected,” CEC assistant director Sigrid Wright told Noozhawk on Sunday afternoon. “It’s great, because now the vendors have room to spread out.”

At the courthouse, she added, vendors “were on top of each other.” Now, she said, it might be necessary to move the festival to Saturday, or extend the hours, or even spread it out over the weekend.

Among the biggest draws of the day was a prefabricated green model home, left unfinished in places to demonstrate the technology behind it. More than 350 people an hour took the tour over a seven-hour period, Wright said.

The small home was built as a collaboration between the CEC, Allen Associates and Wade Davis Design, which also designed the house to be fire-resistant. The house will soon be trucked up to the Coyote Road neighborhood to become the home of a family that lost theirs in the Tea Fire.

Meanwhile, the green car show expanded this year with even more alternatives to fossil-fuel technology. Among the new concepts was the Tesla Roadster, a highway-ready electric car, going for about $100,000. The production car, a sedan, will cost roughly $45,000. For the environmentalist without such deep pockets, a range of alternatives, from hybrids to bicycles, were also on hand at Sunday’s show.

This year’s theme, “Life After Oil,” spawned “Green Shorts,” a series of short films made by the community for the community, on how people can reduce their need for materials made with petroleum products. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the 1969 Santa Barbara Channel oil spill, the event that spawned Earth Day and the environmental movement in Santa Barbara.

As if to drive the point home, cyclists to the festival were given special treatment by bicycle valets and Santa Barbara MTD buses and shuttles ran all day for free. Many unlucky drivers, however, had to hunt for parking and walk blocks to get to the festival.

On Monday, Noozhawk will draw the winning contest entries for a camera from Samy’s Camera and other prizes.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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