Lawless Park hosts nature celebration

Published 11:01 am Friday, May 15, 2015

Terrestrial and celestial beauty will be given equal attention inside the confines of Dr. T.K. Lawless Park on Saturday, as the Cass County Parks Department holds its annual Earth and Stars Celebration this weekend.

A full range of events run throughout the afternoon and evening that day, beginning at 2 p.m. Live music, guest lectures and guided tours of the park grounds are among the many activities on this year’s schedule.

Once again organizing the festivities surrounding the Earth portion of the event is Korie Blyveis, the Newberg Township clerk and a member of the county parks department. The local official has been organizing annual celebrations around Earth Day since 1989, moving it to the Vandalia park more than five years ago, Blyveis said.

“I don’t think people pay attention enough to what we have,” Blyveis said. “So I thought this was a good way to celebrate the goodness we have on Earth, and a good way for families to learn more about nature and how to protect it.”

While a few weeks removed from the actual national celebration of the holiday, moving the Earth Day event to later in the spring gives visitors a chance to enjoy warmer weather, and to see a greater range of plants and animals, according to Parks Director Scott Wyman.

“Things are really starting to come alive in nature, so it’s great timing as far as that’s concerned,” Wyman said.

At about the same that Earth Day celebration moved to Lawless Park, members of the Michiana Astronomical Society partnered with the county parks department to host a star gazing event inside the park every May. Bringing a set of high powered telescopes, the society gives the public a chance to observe the night sky.

“The ruralness and remoteness of Lawless made it an appealing location for the Michiana Astronomical Society,” Wyman said. “You have to get out of the city lights to really get a great view, and Lawless makes a great place for that.”

With two events celebrating nature occurring around the same time, the department decided to take advantage of their close proximity by combining them into a single day, Wyman said.

“Only lately have we combined the two just so we can get more people at each event,” Wyman said. “The people coming to the stars event can to the earth events, and the earth day people can come out and look at the stars.”

Admission to the park costs $5 per vehicle.

Schedule of events

2 p.m. — Local vendors and educational exhibits open

•  Hands-on children activities including art in the park

•  MSUE info booth-lake invasives including Starry Stonewort*

•  Book exchange booth – drop-off used books/take books home

•  Juggler at Large wandering and performing throughout the day

2 p.m. — David Fuller, Astronomical Society speaker – Light Pollution

2:20 p.m. —Presentation by Therese Dorau, director of office of sustainability, City of South Bend

3 p.m. — The Winsome Hags, stories and folk music

3:30 p.m. — Live Birds of Prey, Lake Milton Raptor Education Center

4 p.m. — Wil Redding – Naturalist/Storyteller

5 p.m. — All Species Parade and Prayer for the Earth: come in costume of any species you desire

5:30 p.m. — John Dudley magic show

6:15 p.m. — Cake walk (50 cents per game)

6:15 p.m. — Walking tour with local farmer/entomologist – Bill Westrate

7 p.m. — Lee Holdrige, Singer/Songwriter

8 p.m. — The ChillBillys host acoustic jam: Bring instrument and join in