Big Earth Day celebration in basin |

Big Earth Day celebration in basin

Eight-year-old Smita Kapadia’s ruby red chaniya, a traditional East Indian dress, flowed about her ankles as she carried out a dance known to her family for countless centuries.

“This dance is called ‘taal,’ which means to let the beat of your heart move with the beat of the drum,” Sheela Patel said as she watched the dark-haired girl swirl in front of the crowd. “They move together.”

The idea of moving in unison with Mother Nature was set all over South Shore’s Earth Day 2000 celebration, an event that has been absent from environmentally sensitive Lake Tahoe since 1996.

On the 30th anniversary of the day dedicated to environmental awareness, the nonprofit League to Save Lake Tahoe made it their mission to bring the festivities back. Saturday’s brisk wind and gloomy skies didn’t chill the mood for revival.

“Last year we attended the Earth Day festival in Reno,” Heidi Hill Drum, the League’s spokeswoman, said. “But Lake Tahoe is an ideal place to celebrate the environment and it’s the 30th anniversary (of Earth Day), so it was the perfect time to bring it back. We’re going to have this every year.”

Smokey Bear, Tahoe Tessie and about 2,000 environmental enthusiasts attended Earth Day 2000 on the South Tahoe Middle School grounds.

Tahoe’s governing agencies and local Earth-friendly vendors were on hand to answer questions and provide educational demonstrations.

Maria Olies said she enjoyed Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board’s demonstration best.

“Don’t use too much fertilizer because it goes into our groundwater,” the 12-year-old South Tahoe Middle School student said after she watched a miniature simulation of how run-off enters the lake. “But the crafts are really fun too.”

While young environmental activists made bird feeders out of pine cones, older generations grooved to the rhythms of local blues talent Cool Black Kettle and Uncle Funkle. Belly dancers shimmied to the beat of bongos.

Joining in South Lake Tahoe’s festive mood, North Shore resurrected its Earth Day festivities this year after an enthusiasm dry spell.

“That’s the beauty of having two offices,” she said. “We can have two Earth Days, although they say every day is Earth Day.”

Hill Drum said she expects next year’s event to grow.

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