A celebration of the environment and the Department of Environmental Protection’s half-century legacy in New Jersey is planned on Saturday, April 23 at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette announced.
The celebration has been more than two years in the making, after the COVID-19 pandemic put plans for DEP’s grand 50th anniversary celebration in 2020 on hold. Activities on Saturday will include numerous demonstrations for children and adults on topics ranging from centuries-old fossils to electric vehicles, wildfire prevention, police dogs, a mobile aquarium, fun science demonstrations and learning about the many ecological aspects of New Jersey’s diverse environment. Admission is free to the event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both near and inside the Central Jersey Railroad Terminal building. Parking will be available in the lot next to the terminal. Liberty State Park is at 1 Audrey Zapp Drive in Jersey City.
“There is much to celebrate about our environment every day, but especially during Earth Week,” Commissioner LaTourette said. “The DEP was established on Earth Day 52 years ago, one of the first such state agencies of its kind in the nation. The celebration at Liberty State Park is a wonderful opportunity to get outdoors to one of the most beloved parks in our state to not only see how far our environment has come since 1970, but to understand what we all must do to protect it for future generations.”
Several speakers are planned to give remarks starting at 11:35 a.m. and highlighting this year’s global Earth Day theme of Invest in our Planet. Scheduled speakers include Commissioner LaTourette, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 Administrator Lisa Garcia, Jersey City Councilwoman Denise Ridley, and others.
Children will have numerous opportunities to engage in many aspects of science, from visiting a wildlife conservation trailer and mobile aquarium of freshwater fish to digging for fossils and learning about sands from around the world. They may also participate in lawn games and play on inflatable structures.
The New Jersey Forest Fire Service, Smokey Bear and State Park Police will demonstrate how they help keep forests and other parts of the environment clean and safe for all, while AmeriCorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors will explain why tiny organisms are indicative of clean water. Among many other activities will be an inflatable slide, obstacle course, arts and crafts, face painting and more. Visitors may purchase refreshments at food trucks that will be on site.
A variety of information tables are also planned on topics including electric vehicles and financial incentives for purchasing one; the restrictions on plastic bags that take effect May 4; lead in drinking water; the NJ Big Tree Conservation Program; and climate science. Other exhibitors on site will offer a variety of activities, prizes and giveaways including reusable straws, reusable bags and tree seedlings.
In keeping with the Earth Day theme of investing in the planet, event visitors are encouraged to take mass transit, including the NJ TRANSIT Light Rail line next to the park or the Liberty Landing Ferry. Other recommended transportation options to help limit the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming and climate change include carpooling to Liberty State Park or using a ride share service. Water-filling stations will be available at the event for visitors to fill reusable containers or bottles.
For more information about Earth Week and Earth Day in New Jersey, as well as the DEP’s 50+2 anniversary, visit https://nj.gov/dep/52earthday/
Follow Commissioner LaTourette on Twitter and Instagram @shawnlatur and follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP, Facebook @newjerseydep, Instagram @nj.dep and LinkedIn @newjerseydep