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SAVING THE EARTH : 2 Family-Style Events Will Help Mold a New Generation of the Environmentally Aware

April 15, 1993|CORINNE FLOCKEN | Corinne Flocken is a free-lance writer who regularly covers Kid Stuff for The Times Orange County Edition.

The Drip Dudes and Recycle Rex probably would have been laughed out of the first Earth Day celebrations in 1970. Back then, the nation's environmental movement was just gaining steam, not to mention political clout, and the idea of recruiting kiddie cartoon characters and a neon blue dinosaur to the cause might have seemed, well, childish.

Today, that's just the point. At 24, Earth Day has mellowed enough to be a little silly when the occasion warrants, especially if it means molding a new generation of ecologically aware folk. Carried by perky stage shows, comic book heroes and suspender-popping children's singers, the movement's cry of "recycle, reduce, reuse" can be heard all over kiddie pop culture.

On Sunday, families can take part in two Earth Day events that will play heavily to youngsters and the young at heart: The "Let's Make a Difference" Environmental Faire in Anaheim (where both Recycle Rex and the Drip Dudes will be on hand), and Earth Day 1993 at Upper Newport Bay in Newport Beach.

The costumed Drip Dudes will spread the word on water pollution, toxic waste, drought and other topics with live rap-style stage shows in Anaheim's Peralta Canyon Park at noon and 1:30 p.m. (The Dudes, the story goes, once were outer space particles whose planet had been trashed by enviro-louts. After falling through a hole in the Earth's ozone layer, they were transformed into the first material they encountered, water.)

Recycle Rex, the "spokesdinosaur" for the California Department of Conservation and the star of a Disney-produced educational video making the rounds of California elementary schools, will visit with kids throughout the day.

Other children's features at the park will include Recycle

City, where kids can build their own cityscape from castoff materials; an Earth ball play area and hands-on activities run by the Children's Museum at La Habra, the Girl Scout Council of Orange County and the Oak Canyon Nature Center. Forty local national and international groups will set up booths promoting everything from home composting to eco-friendly cleaning products.

At 9 a.m., adults can take part in a "Park Beautification" project to include the planting of trees within the park and transplanting 1,000 seedlings to be given away at the Environmental Faire. Actress Valerie Harper will host.

Conservation will take a turn for the wetter at Earth Day 1993 on Shellmaker Island in the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve & Regional Park. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., children can become better acquainted with the coastal environment through hands-on activities, crafts and tours. The event is being presented by UNB Naturalists in conjunction with the Orange County Harbors, Beaches and Parks and the California Department of Fish and Game. Free parking will be available on the island and near the intersection of Jamboree Road and Back Bay Drive.

John Scholl, a wildlife naturalist with the Fish and Game department, says a touch tank filled with crabs, fish, sharks (the "non-harmful" type, he assures) and other animals that make their home in the bay should be a popular stop for kids. Games, face-painting and music also will be offered during the fourth annual event.

Kayaks, canoes and electric boats will be available at no charge throughout the day, and the public will be given access to many normally restricted areas within the 1,000-acre site. Naturalist-led walking tours are scheduled, and food and drinks will be sold.

"It's just a real comfortable time," said Scholl, "to kick back and enjoy the day."

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