Earth Day will be celebrated with a week's worth of activities in the Washington area

By Jessica McFadden
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 16, 2010

I asked my son Charlie what he knew about Earth Day and he replied: "It's the day when the Earth gets cleaned up -- kind of like the day when the recycling truck comes to your house, except for the whole planet. All the people help, even those that normally don't think about that kind of stuff."

Pretty astute for 6 years old (of course, as his mother, I'm biased).

And according to Kathleen Rogers, president of the Earth Day Network, which works to promote Earth Day worldwide, he's not too far off the mark. "I can't imagine what the world would be like without Earth Day -- around this one day we get so much done!"

This year Earth Day turns 40. It has grown from the first national event in 1970, when about 20 million Americans participated in environmental rallies, mainly on college campuses, and sparked the modern green movement. Today, Earth Day is featured in standard calendar printings (official date: April 22), and more than 1 billion people in 190 countries will attend the Earth Day 2010 events unfolding over the next week.

A week-long celebration of Earth Day starts Saturday on the Mall and continues through the April 25 Climate Rally. Whether you would like to celebrate the planet by planting flowers on the Mall with your children, taking in a free concert or listening to speeches on climate policy from elected leaders, Washington area residents have a wealth of opportunities.

Earth Day events on the Mall April 17-25

Clean Up of the Mall Saturday 10:30 a.m. National Park Service and the Trust for the Mall staff will lead adult and child volunteers in a massive cleanup of the Mall and the Potomac riverbank. All materials will be provided, and there will be T-shirts and hacky sacks for kids. Free.

FDR Memorial, 1850 W. Basin Dr. SW.

Earth Day Tour at the Smithsonian American Art Museum Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Family friendly activities include making woven placemats, interactive storytelling and even making a community fence in conjunction with the Running Fence exhibition. Free.

Kogod Courtyard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Eighth and F streets NW. 202-633-5435,

Arts performances Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., 40th Anniversary Stage on the Mall at 12th Street. Live music, performance arts and speakers from community leaders and environmental stewards. Saturday performances include a multimedia presentation by NASA and renowned author of science books for children Seymour Simon. On Sunday there will be performances by Ray Apollo, Magpie and the Joy of Motion Dance Center youth company, among others. Free.

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