The 12th Annual Jim Thorpe Earth Day Festival takes place on April 17 and 18 at the Joziah White Park in downtown Jim Thorpe and at the Mauch Chunk Opera House at 14 W Broadway.
The 40th anniversary of Earth Day is generating buzz in the form of various projects and campaigns in the United States and around the world. For example, New York City has kicked off its “Be the E” campaign as part of a broad effort to raise solidarity and support for green projects. Halfway across the globe, Morocco has announced its National Earth Charter for the Environment and Sustainable Development.
Meanwhile, thousands of smaller-scale efforts to promote awareness of environmental issues take place around the country. In Jim Thorpe, Earth Day has been celebrated since 1998, organized by local shopkeeper Shelli Holland. “I put together a group of like-minded individuals who love music, art and the environment,” says Ms. Holland, who operates the Horizons gift shop. “Back then, there wasn’t a lot of celebrating going on. It was if Earth Day had been forgotten.”
Inspired by the Jim Thorpe area’s rolling terrain, secluded hiking and biking trails and the Lehigh River that bisects the town, Ms. Holland had a vision of a fun, relaxed festival with educational components as well. “From the mountains that we hike on, to the river we love to raft, we have surroundings worth celebrating and cherishing,” she says. Now a non-profit organization, the Jim Thorpe Earth Day Festival has grown into a two-day event featuring free live music during the day in the downtown park and at the Opera House, a Lehigh River Clean-Up, arts and crafts, games, yoga and all sorts of environmental information.
“Last year, we really saw growth as people responded to our message,” she says, noting that the county parking lot was completely full. “We always feel pretty sure our younger friends will come and offer support for the festival, but now there has been much more interest from all age groups.”
The festival headline show features the reggae singer and band leader George Wesley on Saturday, April 17 at the Mauch Chunk Opera House. The show includes an atmospheric light show courtesy of Groovin’ Lumens, a Rochester, NY-based stage lighting company that has been involved in the Northeast music festival scene for over 15 years, working with bands like The New Riders, Dickey Betts’ Great Southern, Del McCoury Band and the Hackensaw Boys.
Reflecting on twelve years of organizing Earth Day festivals during times when the day seemed to have been forgotten, Ms. Holland says, “Something trendy was never the point, awareness always was. Ultimately, we’re after good vibes,” she says. “They seem to be in rather short supply these days, so that’s where this festival starts.”
More information is available at EarthDayJT.com or by calling Horizons at (570) 325-2079. Visit MauchChunkOperaHouse.com for information on the April 17 George Wesley Band show at the Opera House.