On their first visit to Frick Park for Earth Day on Saturday, the Brock family was looking forward to guided hikes through the woods identifying mushrooms and other wild edibles.
“Hiking is something we enjoy. It’s a good family activity,” said Seth Brock, who came with his wife and four young children from their home in Canonsburg. “We’ve never been here before, so we thought we would try it out.”
Saturday marked the 16th straight year the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has hosted Earth Day events at Frick Park, joining people around the globe in the annual April 22 celebration recognizing efforts to protect the environment.
This year’s celebration was special for many Pittsburghers because it was the first Earth Day since the Frick Environmental Center opened in September. The three-story building — designed to be a “living classroom for environmental education” — is on track to be designated as one of the greenest buildings in the world. It replaces a center that was destroyed by fire.
The center was part of a $19 million facelift at the Squirrel Hill park, which boasts a solar panel array over the parking lot that meets the center’s electrical needs and a rain collection system for supplying non-potable water.
“I’m proud to be here today,” said Gov. Tom Wolf in kicking off the festivities during an overcast but rain-free morning. “The quality of life for all of us depends on how we use our environment. I appreciate the care, concern and attention everyone here is giving to the environment.”
Besides more than 30 themed hikes, the Earth Day events included tree climbing demonstrations and various solar-powered activities such as solar-powered interactive bubble machines and mix-your-own smoothies using a hand pedal to power the blender.
The day was set to wrap up with a concert from 4:30 to 7 p.m.using solar-powered “juice boxes” to supply the electricity.