Mother Nature cooperated with Earth Day as celebrants awoke Saturday to find blue skies and mild temperatures in downtown Tehachapi.
This year, the festivities kicked off with the March for Science, a non-partisan, family-friendly event put on to support the National March for Science, advocating making public policy decisions based on research.
Leading the March for Science was Chris Rush, committee co-chair.
"We have a lot of people involved in science in Tehachapi, including engineers working at military bases," Rush told the crowd before leading people on a half-mile course downtown. "It is great that you all are here, and have come in support of science and science education."
More than 100 marchers from Ridgecrest, Bakersfield, Mojave and beyond waved colorful signs in support of science-related issues as they chanted:
"Hey, hey, what do you say? We cheer science all the way.
"Hey, hey, what do you see? Evidence based knowledge for you and for me.
"Hey, hey, what do you know? Science does more than make things go.
"Hey, hey, what do you hear? Science supporters are music to the ear!"
Whether the March for Science becomes an annual event remains to be seen.
"The March for Science really is in response to the apparent cuts that might be happening in Washington," said Ginny Tunks, committee co-chair. "It's to show a belief in what science can do and all that. We are doing this as a non-partisan event with the thought that science matters to everybody."
Following the March for Science, people who gathered at Central Park were treated to exhibit and information booths featuring local parks in celebration of Earth Day. There was something for everyone as the celebration also included children's activities, storytelling and the crafting of animal masks.
According to Master of Ceremonies Charles White, more than a billion people around the world were expected to participate in Earth Day.
Said White, "Many of the people here are from the local community, and we do have people from other places. We are just a small committee and we don't have any funding, so many people donated out of their pockets to pay the rental fee for the park."
White said that next year he hopes to see the local Earth Day celebration grow through the support of sponsors.
Said White, "Science is a very important part of our world. Not only solutions to problems, but just the way we live our lives and in the education for children. That's why we are calling the speakers who will speak today as the 'Teach In,' which goes back to the very first Earth Day in 1970, as they also held a Teach In at that time, to educate people about science."
Guest speakers included Dr. Richard P. Turco, retired UCLA professor of atmospheric and oceanic science; Lauren Hollen, retired Tehachapi High School teacher; Dr. Jeroen Gillard, assistant professor of biology, CSUB; Paul Gipe, wind energy expert; and Tony Vespa, Hyundai automotive test engineer.
Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park volunteers handed out brochures on public tours as well as sold indigenous plant cookbooks.
"We are offering a hike which started today and will run through the middle of June on Saturdays," said park volunteer Bernice Romo.
One of the original founders of the Tehachapi Heritage League, Del Troy, also provided information and brochures to the public.
Said Troy, "I'm here representing Tomo-Kahni, and I hope everyone enjoys Earth Day and helps to service our Earth. It's great to see people come to learn about the people who still live here and learn about their language and culture."
The Friends of the Piute Ponds were also educating the public on the "hidden oasis" located at the southwest corner of Edwards Air Force Base, just south of Rosamond and north of Lancaster.
"The Piute Ponds is very important for migratory birds species that stop here," said Richard Montijo, vice president of the Friends of the Piute Ponds.
According to Montijo, the Piute Ponds is home to protected plant species as well as protected bird species.
"The Ponds themselves are approximately over 800 acre feet," said Wanda Deal of the Friends of the Piute Ponds, who encouraged visitors to visit the little-known natural habitat. Visitors are required to obtain clearance by Edwards Air Force Base first, however.
Misty Hailstone, biological scientist for the Environmental Management Office at Edwards Air Force Base and operational manager of the Piute Ponds, brought with her a California King Snake and Desert Tortoise, specimens found in the local deserts.
Said Hailstone, "Piute Ponds is one of my responsibilities. We are here because we like to spread education about wildlife and conservation as well as wildlife safety so you know what's in your backyard and how to handle that."
Hillstone said the tortoise is a major focus of her work as it is the only federally threatened species that lives on the base full-time.
Also present at the event were information booths manned by local civic organizations.
"We have many activities available to our members, including our discussion group which tries to come up with solutions to world problems," said Jeannette Crounse on behalf of the American Association of University Women.
Earth Day also featured information on the bee colony collapse, vaccinations and the Tehachapi Audubon Blue Bird Count.