The festival celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day has been postponed until July 10, 11, and 12 in response to the COVID-19 health advisories. Typically, Earth Day festivities are held in the third week of April and draw crowds of about 35,000. Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent health advisory called for the cancelation or postponement of events and gathering involving 250 or more.
Event organizers have been wrestling with the issue all week. What tipped the scales, according to Kathi King of the Community Environmental Council, the event’s chief sponsor, was the decision by UCSB to cancel traditional classes in favor of virtual instruction. King added that she could sense a desire by some members of the Santa Barbara City Council to restrict social gatherings sooner rather than later based on the tone and tenor of this week’s deliberations at the council meeting this Tuesday. Also, she noted that some of the 200 exhibitors who were signed up to participate had indicated they would not be involved.
Given Santa Barbara’s pivotal role in giving birth to Earth Day as a national day of political and cultural observation, she said, the decision was far from easy. “It was very hard, and it’s a very big deal,” she said. Whether postponed or not, she added, “Earth Day is still Earth Day, obviously. It’s still going to be the 50th anniversary, and we can still celebrate it, even if that means shouting out our windows.”