TRAVERSE CITY — Don’t be surprised when a 14-foot seed makes its way through downtown Traverse City.
That’s just one of the hand-built puppets participants and spectators can expect to see Saturday during the 24th annual Grand Traverse Earth Day Parade. Earth Day is April 22.
Penny Krebiehl is founder of Little Artshram, which organizes the parade. She said this year’s theme is “Seeds! Awesome Vessels of Power.”
“Each has a part of the story of a life cycle of the seed,” she said. “It also corresponds to the human species.”
Volunteers spent months constructing puppets and masks for the parade at Blackbird Arts, with help from George Meyer, an artist from the In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater in Minneapolis. The parade does not use motors, in keeping with Earth Day’s environmental message.
Krebiehl said check-in starts at 11:30 a.m. at Oryana Natural Foods Market and the parade follows a new route down Eighth Street, Cass Street and Front Street before looping back toward the market.
“It’s cool to watch it, but it’s a lot more fun to be in it than stand on the street,” she said.
People who want to carry puppets or participate can show up early.
The parade is one of several local Earth Day-related events. Northwestern Michigan College will hold its second annual Dirt Fest on Saturday, and this year the event dovetails with the parade.
Organizer Mara Penfil, an NMC student worker who started the free event, said it begins with an eight-mile community “bike brigade” at 10 a.m. at the NMC Welcome Center and connects with the parade. She said the celebration continues on NMC’s campus with musical performances, food and drinks and four workshops on gardening, composting and fermentation.
“It’s geared toward giving people in a space that’s accessible to families, students and all sorts of backgrounds a chance to celebrate and learn about environmental stewardship without becoming overwhelmed,” she said.
More information on both events can be found at www.littleartsharm.org and www.nmc.edu/dirtfest.