TRAVERSE CITY — Laura Cavender embraced an opportunity to rejoice and step away from a recent overload of gloomy news.
The Oryana Natural Foods Market employee donned a kale and straw crown as she marched downtown Saturday in the 24th annual Grand Traverse Earth Day Parade organized by Little Artshram. The diversity in age and background of people who walked and chanted in homemade costumes impressed her.
”This is our earth and we celebrate. We make music. It’s not about being a crazy hippie … we can all celebrate together,” she said.
A 14-foot cardboard and papier-mache seed represented this year’s theme, “Seeds! Awesome Vessels of Power.” Arkansas puppet builder George Meyer spent the past month in Traverse City holding workshops with children to create masks and puppets, including frogs, fish and mushrooms.
Meyer helped carry the seed and occasionally shouted “Happy Earth Day.” He said the parade’s hand-built puppets — a nod to the flower and bumble bees that trailed him — showed how seeds sprout, bloom and fruit.
It also was about “creating awareness that seeds are just perfect in their natural state and we don’t need to mess with” genetically modified crops, Meyer said.
Sonya and David Girdley stopped at the corner of State and Cass streets to catch a glimpse before they grabbed lunch. They’ve watched the parade the past four years and appreciate the homemade costumes.
This year’s blowing snow flurries and low-30s temperatures added a wintery touch to their tradition.
”I said we better get out here soon. It’s cold, they’re going to be walking fast,” Sonya Girdley said.
Jamie McCombs pulled her daughter and a friend — dressed as a mermaid and a peacock — in a wagon. She enjoyed the event’s camaraderie.
”It feels good to give back. It’s fun,” McCombs said.