Friends of Downs Park want you to take a walk with them next month along the park's Chesapeake Bay shoreline and through the woods to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of Earth Day and to raise money for the park's environmental education programs.
The organization hopes to raise $900 during March for Parks weekend, April 21-23, to make back the money it spent on a giant Earth ball and parachute to be used to educate children about the environment.
"We love our park," said Betty Jansky, chairwoman of Friends of Downs Park. "We're trying to do as much as we can to help the park."
The group has purchased the 6-foot beach ball, painted to look like the Earth, and the parachute, which will represent the ozone layer in some educational games.
Ranger Dennis Cloutier explained that the games will make youngsters more aware of their environment.
"It's going to teach the kids that the earth is more fragile than we know," he said. "It's going to promote the idea of global solidarity among the earth's people."
In one game, for example, children sit in a circle around the ball. Each one uses a finger to lift the ball together. The game encourages each child to take responsibility for the environment, Mr. Cloutier said.
"One person can't solve the pollution problem, but if everyone lends a hand, we can solve major problems," he said. "If we don't care about the earth, then it's not going to be around."
The March for Parks is an annual event that raises money for different parks across the country. All of the money raised by walkers at Downs will go to the park.
This will be the first year Downs Park has participated in the march. Mr. Cloutier said he is hoping to attract at least 350 people to get pledges and walk the 3 1/2 -mile course around the waterfront park. Marchers can participate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. any day of the weekend.
"We're doing it three days to make it more convenient for people," Mr. Cloutier said. "If they can't do it on a Saturday, they can do it on a Friday or a Sunday."
The group also is expecting support from local corporate sponsors. Businesses that would like to have a banner in the park that weekend may purchase a local sponsorship for as little as $50.
To attract others to the park that weekend, Friends of Downs Park also is holding a spring crafts fair 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 22. About 55 vendors have signed up to sell flowers, country crafts and baked goods.
Selling booth space for the craft fair has raised about $1,200 for future projects in the park.
"We want to have a better playground," Ms. Jansky said. "Right now, the county's got it on the back burner, so we're trying to push it along by raising our own money."
The walk begins at the park's main office and follows a paved trail under the South Overlook, north through the woods toward Locust Cove, then east toward a pond and the North Overlook on Chesapeake Bay and back to the main office where the Earth Ball and parachute will be on display.
Registration and pledge forms for the walk may be picked up in the park. Individuals and community or business groups are welcome to participate.
For more information, call the park at 222-6230.