Tuesday, May 4, 2010
On Saturday, April 17th, the park held its annual John Muir Birthday – Earth Day Celebration in Martinez, California. The event, which is sponsored in conjunction with the John Muir Association, brought together people from all over the Bay Area to celebrate John Muir’s 172nd birthday (April 21st) and Earth Day’s 40th anniversary (April 22nd). This is the fifth year that the park has held this free event and it was the largest crowd yet – almost 2,400 visitors and over 50 exhibitors and vendors, including non-profit organizations, national and local parks, and many other community groups.
The celebration carried on the legacy of John Muir by presenting exhibits and fun activities about nature and conservation for all ages. The Piedmont Highlands Drums and Pipes Band honored Muir’s Scottish roots by marching in a procession to start the event. Participants enjoyed live entertainment, guided tours of the 1882 Victorian Muir home and grounds, nature walks, and Junior Ranger activities presented by nine National Park Service sites that were represented at the event.
Bay Area residents of every age attended this action-filled John Muir Birthday–Earth Day Celebration. John Swett Elementary School held a recycle fashion show that proved one person's waste is another person's chic clothing. The Environmental Studies Academy high school students helped park rangers with operations and educated the public about environmental issues.
Members of the Muir family were at the event, including his only remaining grandson, Ross Hanna. Michael Muir, great grandson of John Muir, greeted guests with one of the largest horses in North America, named “Roc.”
John Muir, as portrayed by National Park Service ranger Frank Helling, celebrated his birthday by telling tales and sharing his birthday cake, while Louie Muir (Patty Helling) playing the piano as would have been done at events at the Muir home.
“The home where John Muir lived and worked is a center for learning about Muir’s life and his efforts to conserve our nation’s most beautiful lands,” said Martha Lee, the park’s general superintendent. “Many of Muir’s ideas and writings are as relevant and timely today as when he asked each person to ‘keep close to nature’s heart.’"