Earth Week celebrations abound

Earth Week celebrations abound

Ladybug release at AlexanderMontessori School

Earth Day started in the United States in 1970 and has since grown to involve 192 countries. In South Florida, this environmentalist movement has morphed and expanded into an entire Earth Week, involving families.

For many of us, Earth Week embodies our kids and being outdoors. It means both fun and educational events.

For students in Palmetto Bay, it meant a ladybug release at their school. In Pinecrest, it was an Earth Day Festival at Pinecrest Gardens with informative workshops and demonstrations on a variety of ecological topics, such as, how to start composting at home.

Earth Week celebrations abound

Councilmembers from Cutler Bay and Palmetto Bay award kids’ bike donated by Mack Cycle.

As Friday rolled around, activities kicked into high gear. Palmetto Bay had about 1500 people show up in Coral Reef Park for their final ladybug release where police officer Patience Glasko helped hand out ladybugs to anxiously awaiting kids.

Afterwards, while picnicking families enjoyed Disney’s ‘Frozen’ movie night under the stars, I, MiamiHal, handed out free popcorn with my kids. Families really enjoyed the evening.

Early the next morning, Palmetto Bay gave away free trees to anyone who came by Ludovici Park behind the public library. Chris Olsen brought his toddler son to pick out the perfect tree for their yard, “We came expecting saplings and when we go here we saw 3- 4 year old trees ready to be planted. We’re blessed to live in such a great community.”

Earth Week celebrations abound

Class art piece highlighting student faces.

Saturday brought cooperation between Cutler Bay and Palmetto Bay for a 10-mile Earth week themed Bike-B-Que, part of the Bike305 initiative. The event began inside Lakes By The Bay and stopped at the Deering Estate Chinese Bridge for a naturalist talk and then it was off to Ludovici Park for a free BBQ and a bike giveaway sponsored by Mack Cycles.

“It’s a great way to celebrate Earth Day, spending time with my family and enjoying the great outdoors,” said Cutler Bay resident Joel Mizelle, reflecting on the day. On Sunday, there was a canoe tour of the mangroves in and around the Deering Estate.

“I had a blast reconnecting with nature and learning about the protection efforts to care for our delicate coastline,” said Pinecrest’s Lisa Agustino.

No matter your motivation, Earth Week certainly had its positive impact here in South Florida.


Earth Week celebrations abound

Family canoe trip through the mangroves around Deering Estate.


On May 1, the Bet Shira Early Childhood Center celebrated the 21st annual Kids Art Night by creating a cruise-themed experience. Chaired by Parent Teacher Community members Melissa Dall’au and Courtney Larkin, the fundraiser featured individual and class-created artworks by the school’s children (age 18 months to 6 years).

“It was so exciting to have the kids see the final touches and setup before the event,” said Larkin. “They saw their art come together and the spotlight on their work. I’ll never forget their faces.”

Under the guidance of art teacher Michelle Diamond, the students worked together to create ceramic, mixed-media pieces and Judaic art that were then auctioned off at the evening’s live auction.

Earth Week celebrations abound

Melissa Dall’au (left) and Courtney Larkin chair this year’s art night.

Guests mingled and dined while browsing and bidding on over 125 silent auction items donated by local Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and South Miami businesses, as well as items from the Florida Marlins, Miami Dolphins and Florida Panthers. The evening also featured over 800 professional portraits of the school children. Donated by Marta Villalba Photography for the past eight years, these stunning photographs have become a centerpiece of the event.

“One of the highlights of the year is to see how she captures the beauty of every child,” said ECC director Dr. Judi Gampel.

This year’s event was attended by more than 300 patrons and the money raised will help fund cutting-edge technology in the classrooms. Bet Shira Early Childhood Center is a private preschool and kindergarten located in Pinecrest.


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Hal Feldman is a Realtor with RE/MAX Advance Realty and a regular contributor to The Pinecrest Tribune.. Contact him at or via email at

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