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Queens Museum of Art to hold Earth Day event

More than 150 Queens residents, government representatives and United Nations officials will gather March 20 at the Queens Museum of Art to celebrate International Earth Day with interfaith prayers, song and dance.

“We want to create awareness that this earth is our home,” said John Tandana, vice president of the Queens chapter of the United Nations Association. “We want to create awareness that climate change is a serious issue and about what we can do to help, like don’t keep the water running while you brush your teeth.”

The event at 12 p.m. will be the second-annual International Earth Day celebration sponsored by the Queens chapter of the United Nations Association in the borough. About 150 individuals from Queens, twice the number of last year’s event, were expected to join groups all over the world in ringing a bell for peace on the day that commemorates the official beginning of spring.

The free event will include a reception and speeches by a United Nations ambassador; City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), chairman of the Council Environmental Protection Committee; and other officials. Professional performers and local children will sing and dance.

Former Ridgewood resident John McConnell founded International Earth Day in 1971 and he will make a phone call to those at the March 20 event. McConnell, a peace activist who now lives in Colorado, first introduced the idea of what he hoped would become a global holiday at the 1969 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization conference on the environment.

The first Earth Day celebrations were held in 1970 and then-United Nations Secretary-General U Thant signed an Earth Day proclamation in February 1971.

A number of high-ranking figures threw their support behind the day, and the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead called Earth Day the “first holy day which transcends all national borders, yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord, is devoted to the preservation of the harmony in nature and yet draws upon the triumphs of technology ....”

Earth Day has been celebrated at the United Nations’ headquarters in Manhattan for years.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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