It’s hard to think of a tougher road to becoming a green city than Pittsburgh’s. The journey from Steel City to sustainable innovation hub may still be a work in progress, but that doesn’t mean we can’t throw a party to mark how far we’ve come.
On Wednesday, April 22 Pittsburgh Earth Day promises a citywide celebration of sustainability. From live music and food trucks to composting classes and yoga sessions, all powered by sun or wind, there’s nothing half-hearted about Pittsburgh’s first unified, citywide Earth Day celebration. Market Square, Mellon Square, and Schenley Plaza are the focus of events on Wednesday.
City workers can pop out for a taco or pierogies at the Food Truck Festival in Mellon Square from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., or sample fresh produce in the Giant Eagle Market District Pop-up Organic Market.
Live entertainment kicks off in the morning with Appalachian Bluegrass band and The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers, Cello Fury plays at noon. Gene Stovall with Alien Faces and Kyle Lawson Duo will perform in the afternoon hours.
Headlining the Mellon Square stage at 6 p.m. is Pittsburgh’s Chris Jamison, who shot to fame as a heart-throb finalist on season 7 of “The Voice.” Fans also have the chance to meet Jamison at a concert pre-party at Hotel Monaco from 4 to 6 p.m. Opening for Jamison is 3 Dudes Chillin.
Over at Market Square, EverPower Earth Day will showcase the local businesses and organizations making strides in sustainability from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. There’ll be education sessions on composting, rain barrels, and yoga, along with an artists’ market and live musical performances by Scott, Rob, and Greg of The Clarks (Acoustic), Donora, and Nameless in August.
Take part in the Lunchtime Loop, a walk to four designated (and yet to be announced) landmarks, with those who snap a selfie at each checkpoint in the running for prizes and special discounts.
Bring the littlies along to Schenley Plaza for a gentle morning workout with Yoga for Tots. Free classes for grown-ups will be held in the afternoon as well, along with kids’ games and story readings with Carnegie Library’s Books on the Bus. At noon Josh and Gab will be performing their anti-bullying musical comedy program for kids.
DJ Nugget will provide the tunes from 2 – 4 p.m., until a pop-up dance party takes over at 4:22 p.m., with a “surprise” DJ, announced this week as Luke Miller from Lotus, aka Luke the Knife.
Macy’s Downtown is decorating its shop windows in sustainable style, centered on four Earth Day-inspired images by local photographers. The photos will be auctioned later at the Fairmont Hotel, with proceeds going to benefit Tree Pittsburgh.
Celebrations wrap up in style at the Fairmont, with the Sustainability Soiree from 7 to 9 p.m. It’s free and open to over 21s, who can relax with a special Earth Day whiskey cocktail with Wigle Whiskey at Andy’s Wine Bar and live music by Detour. And if that’s not enough, there will also be an eco-fashion show.
Eating out is one of the easiest ways to share in the celebrations – Pittsburgh eateries will be offering special one-off Earth Day menus, featuring locally sourced, organic food. Participating restaurants include Braddock’s, The Porch at Schenley, Habitat, Soba, The Butcher and the Rye, The Commoner and more.
For those who can’t make time for a mid-week planet party, there are other opportunities to mark the event this weekend.
Frick Park’s events begin on Friday, April 17 with a community campfire – the ideal excuse to start your weekend with hot dogs and s’mores. That’s followed by a volunteer tree planting and litter clean-up with Nine Mile Run on Saturday morning, and a series of nature walks on Sunday with expert naturalists to point out the hidden secrets of the park.
This year is the 45th Earth Day, an annual event aimed at raising awareness of environmental issues. Since starting in 1970, the movement has broadened to a network of events involving 50,000 partner groups in 192 countries. This year’s campaign is based around the theme “It’s our turn to lead”.
For a complete guide to local Earth Day activities visit Pittsburgh Earth Day.
Heather McCracken is a Pittsburgh-based freelance journalist.