By Robert Parker, 350 Colorado Board member

On May 4th, 350 Central Colorado hosted the “Parade for Our Species” and then held “Our Mother Earth Festival” in the afternoon in Salida Colorado. This annual and growing event in Salida is now in its sixth year.

Parade for the Species Group Shot – photo by Jim Potter

Each year, our involvement has grown. In 2014, we had a “350 Central Colorado” banner created for our first action. The next year, 2015, was the first time that we set up a booth in Salida’s Riverside Park for Earth Day. In 2016, we again participated. For 2017, we created “Parade for our Species” to help boost the Earth Day attendance in Salida. Last year in 2018, along with the parade, 350 Central Colorado hosted the Salida Earth Day Celebration for the first time. And this year, 2019, we moved the date to May 4th, improved and expanded our plans and ideas, and then discovered to our delight that increasingly more of our community wanted to be involved!

We were lucky and grateful to have a very active 350 Central Colorado Leadership Council made up of 13 people who organized the event. 

Barb and Kris and the 350 Central Colorado Banner – photo by Jim Potter

In addition, we had over 50 awesome sponsors whose donations and support allowed us to create our best and most successful festival to date!

Thanks to our Sponsors – photo by Patrick Hawkins

Throughout the day, we had ten features and attractions, including Cheyenne Mountain Zoomobile, Salida Circus, Boys and Girls Club, a 50-foot sperm whale, Pueblo Raptor Center, Groove Battalion Middle School Drummers, River Tribe Dancers, The Skreevers Band, Sandy’s Sing-Along, guest speaker Joe Salazar, and our 350 Central Colorado Eco-Maze.

River tribe and the Parade – photo by Patrick Hawkins

Joseph and the Whale – photo by Jim Potter

Paul and Kent and the Eco-Maze – photo by Patrick Hawkins

We also had an amazing 23 booths, representing both individuals and non-profit organizations also working to save our Earth. The 350 Central Colorado booth focused on educating our attendees about the Green New Deal.

We were so lucky to have twelve assistants who not only worked their hearts out, but also appeared in costume, as shown in the picture below.

Amelia and Lydia, some serious wildlife – photo by Jim Potter

We were graced with several mascot animals who made our day even wilder: Giraffe, Smoky Bear and Slushy the Polar Bear.

Our Giraffe loves Children – photo by Cheryl Tischer

Part of what made our event so successful was the many people who fulfilled dedicated roles. We had our own videographer, multiple dedicated photographers, a Parade Boss who coordinated all things parade, and a Park Boss to coordinate the events in Riverside Park. Last but not least, we were honored to have three flag bearers, including Chaffee County Commissioner Keith Baker and Representative Joe Salazar.

Our Color Guard: Keith Baker, Joe Salazar and Jo Boatwright – photo by Patrick Hawkins

This all comes to over 200 people with jobs and responsibilities in the event. Many more people carried banners and even more walked in costume. There were kids, kids, and more kids!

Kids Are Our Future – photo by Jim Potter

Advertising was a key element to the success of our event. For those of you wondering, here is a breakdown of what we did.

  • Print media: At least one Letter to the Editor and several ads in local newspapers and magazines
  • Radio: several ads on local radio stations, plus a news story and several interviews with our organizers on local stations
  • Print collateral: 40 posters, plus 600 printed fliers, of which 450 were sent home with the elementary school students
  • Web and social media: two Facebook events, the 350 Colorado website, and the 350 Central Colorado Facebook page
  • Word of mouth: Several of the organizations who had booths graciously spread the word to their membership – as did 350 Central Colorado with our newsletter

Circus in the Parade – photo by Jim Potter

We planned for 4 months, acted on our plans and wrapped the project up on May 5th with a debrief, beginning ideas for next year, and a great potluck. We’re ready to do it again next year, and we hope to welcome many 350 Colorado visitors!

 “Remember, only you can save our Earth – and my icebergs.” – photo by Patrick Hawkins