Brittany Dabestani, coordinator of Earth Day Omaha, said that most of the legwork for the event scheduled to take place at Elmwood Park was completed prior to mid-March.
Fast forward several weeks and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused her and other coordinators to rethink the way Earth Day’s 50th anniversary will be held.
“I keep hearing the phrase that it’s like building an airplane while you’re flying it,” Dabestani said of now planning the event. “We are still working.”
One of the tactics taken was teaming with Sarpy County Earth Day for a virtual Earth Day presentation on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.
The free, community-wide virtual gathering will enable viewers to learn about pressing environmental issues through outlets like tutorials, youth educational presentations and quarantine activities that can be done at home.
There will also be musical performances and a family dance party finale, according to provided information. Those interested in participating can follow the live stream at www.earthdayomaha.org, or follow on Facebook and Instagram with the #VirtualEarthDayOmaha hashtag. On April 21 following the event, an Earth Day proclamation is slated to be read during Bellevue City Council’s next virtual gathering.
A full list of scheduled activities can be found on Earth Day Omaha’s Facebook page.
Traditionally, Earth Day Omaha is held the week prior to Sarpy County hosting its celebration; however, under the given circumstances, the collaboration made sense.
“With everything having to be rescheduled and with having similar vendors, we felt like it would be better to bring a wide audience to the one event,” said Ruth Richter, coordinator of Sarpy County Earth Day and member of Green Bellevue’s board of directors.
In an effort to have the event run as smoothly as possible, Dabestani said Omaha’s Sonburst Communications was hired to handle all in-studio camera work and coordinate all necessary video/live streaming transitions.
Although far from ideal, Richter said going virtual this year may actually be the way to engage people who wouldn’t typically attend the Sarpy County or Omaha event.
“For anyone who has heard about the event but just hasn’t made the time to go, this is the perfect time for everyone to get a sense of what Earth Day events are like,” Richter said. “ I feel like it’s going to be a neat, four-hour experience that will incentivize people to want to attend personally next year.”