In a visual celebration of Earth Day and all the planet’s creatures, hundreds of people paraded through downtown Bend Saturday dressed as different members of the animal kingdom.

Children wore costumes that turned them into giraffes, tigers and lions. Their parents followed them, parading to the beat of a marching band and wearing similar outfits and face paint.

Some walked with their dogs, which were also dressed up for the day. Others rode their bicycles. One young girl, who was dressed as a bald eagle, rode a unicycle.

The colorful parade made its way down Bond Street, turned onto Minnesota Avenue and continued along Wall Street before spilling onto Troy Field, where everyone joined an Earth Day street fair.

Earth Day, the annual celebration to support environmental protection, is officially Sunday, but that didn’t stop people from showing up. Warm weather and clear skies didn’t hurt.

Mara Richardson, a first-grade teacher at William E. Miller Elementary School, watched the parade with her two daughters, 7-year-old June and 9-year-old Lucy, who were joined by classmates from the elementary school. “We’re just out on a beautiful day to celebrate the Earth,” Richardson said.

Richardson’s daughters and their friends learned about Earth Day in school.

Lucy’s third-grade classmate, Zoe Chung, 8, said their class spent each day last week focused on a lesson using the letters in the word Earth. The theme on the first day was E for enjoy Earth, then A for air is all around us, R for resources, T for tremendous trees and H for helpful humans.

“We spent all week learning about the Earth,” Richardson said. “Our focus this year was to really appreciate the amazing wonder that the Earth is.”

Haley Bright, 5, of Bend, wore a pink dress with wings as she watched the parade with her mother, Christina Bright, and a group of family friends.

Haley said her favorite part of the day was the parade. She’s been learning about Earth and was proud to share that Earth’s sister planet — the planet most like Earth — is Venus. Even at a young age, Haley was able to express the importance of protecting the planet she calls home.

“It’s the only planet we can live on,” she said.

After the parade, participants filled the street fair along Kansas Avenue and on Troy Field. The grass field hosted interactive games for kids and a telescope.

Addison Moore, a 6-year-old first-grader at William E. Miller Elementary School, walked with her mother, Angie Moore, through the fair.

Addison, who dressed as a bumblebee in the parade, heard about the Earth Day festivities during an assembly at school last week and wanted to be a part of it, her mother said.

“She came home talking about it and was determined to find an outfit to be in the parade,” Moore said.

It was their first time in the parade, and an experience Addison won’t soon forget. She was thrilled to be dressed up and amid the vibrant crowd of costumes.

“She loves this stuff,” her mother said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, kspurr@bendbulletin.com

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