Ground zero for Earth Day

Earth Day, which marks the beginning of the environmental conservation movement, has been celebrated April 22 each year since 1970. In Lake County, Earth Day Festival Mount Dora is scheduled from 9am-4pm Saturday, April 21, at Donnelly Park, 530 N. Donnelly St. The free event has a theme of “Living Plastic Wise” and is co-sponsored by Mount Dora Friends of the Environment and the Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce.

Mount Dora’s 22nd annual Earth Day celebration will be the biggest yet, with a full and varied lineup of events, activities, and displays, according to a news release.

This lineup includes: vendors selling handcrafted/upcycled goods and garden plants; educational booths informing visitors about the environment through interactive displays; organic, gluten-free food; live flute and dulcimer music; an oxygen bar; and a henna artist. Sprint will collect old cellphones for safe recycling, and One Blood will collect plasma for needy individuals in Florida.

Orlando fashion designer Georgia Culp will present an Upcycle Fashion show at 2pm featuring models wearing innovative styles made from recycled material, many from discarded plastic items.

Seminars on tree care and how to build a hanging basket will be held inside the Donnelly Building. The schedule of seminars and more information about the event can be found at

This year, the Global Peace Film Festival will partner with the event to show thought-provoking, award-winning films at no charge Friday evening, April 20, and Saturday afternoon, April 21. Both showings will be at the Mount Dora Community Building, 520 N. Baker St. Donations will be taken at the event. Organic beer and wine will be offered at the film festival.

The documentary films include: “A Bold Peace,” about Costa Rica’s decision to abolish the military to allocate funds toward health, education, and a greener economy for their people, as the country leads the world in fossil fuel energy alternatives; “The Anthropologist” follows Susie Crate, an environmental anthropologist traveling and studying the impact of climate change with her daughter; “Speed Sisters” is about the first all-women race car driving team in the Middle East; “The Diplomat” chronicles the life and legacy of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, whose career spans 50 years of American foreign policy from Vietnam to Afghanistan; and “Taking Root,” the story of Wangari Matthai, one of a group of women who helped reforest their country, Kenya, for which she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The reforesting effort also has a local component, says Andrea Burr-Yatsuk, founding member of Mount Dora Friends of the Environment, a nonprofit organization.

“We help the city and our residents to plant trees through two programs: The Resident Tree grant, and the Donate-a-Tree program,” she says in the release. “For every tree we plant in Mount Dora, we plant another tree in a country striving to reforest their land.

“We are dedicated to protecting and preserving the environment through education, community outreach, and local projects, such as planting trees,” Andrea adds. “We are committed to putting our ‘feet in the street’ and our ‘hands in the ground,’ as well as serving as a voice for local environmental advocacy.”

Trees will be given away as well as sold to the public at the event. The mission of the event is to raise money to purchase and plant trees in the city, and all trees purchased for the city are tax-deductible.

For more information, contact Andrea or Janet Gameche at

Visitors can take advantage of the new free shuttle service from designated public parking lots to the downtown area, with stops at the Methodist Church parking lot, the parking lot at 5th and Baker next to the MD art center, and one other stop.

Other communities in Lake County have also planned events for Earth Day.

Keep Lake Beautiful, in partnership with the city of Clermont and Lake County’s Adopt-a-Lake Program, is hosting a community cleanup from 7:30-10:30am Saturday, April 21, at Lake Hiawatha Preserve, 450 N. 12th St., Clermont.

Volunteers are needed to help pick up litter in lakes, along shorelines, and in the surrounding areas of Lake Hiawatha, Lake Minneola, Lake Palatlakaha, and Lake Minnehaha, according to a news release. Residents are encouraged to bring their own boats, but many areas will be accessible by foot.

Trash bags, trash grabbers, gloves, water, and T-shirts will be provided. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable attire, sunscreen, and insect repellent. Volunteers must be 16 years or older or accompanied by an adult. RSVP by April 20 by calling 352.253.1660.

Keep Lake Beautiful volunteers. // Lake County photo

Since its launch, Keep Lake Beautiful has hosted or partnered on dozens of environmentally friendly projects, including community and waterway cleanups, roadside litter pickups, neighborhood and school beautification events, tree plantings, and household hazardous waste collections, the release states.

To register as a volunteer or to sponsor future events, visit, call 352.253.1660, or sign up at the event.

Residents also are encouraged to use the county’s Litter Reporter website at to help pinpoint areas in need of a cleanup. The Litter Reporter is viewable on mobile devices and desktop computers, and allows users to submit data about an area of concern, as well as attach corresponding photos. Keep Lake Beautiful monitors submissions and proposes cleanup efforts and community events as needed.

In The Villages, an Earth Day expo is scheduled from 9am-noon Wednesday, April 18, at Lake Sumter Landing Market Square, according to a news release. Participants include master gardeners from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, The Villages master gardeners and orchid growers, and representatives from the Florida Native Plant Society, among others. For more information, call 352.753.1716.