- The Washington Times - Monday, April 21, 2008

An event organized to draw attention to climate concerns ended abruptly yesterday because of weather concerns.

U.S. Park Police halted a rain-soaked rally and free concert on the Mall in advance of Earth Day tomorrow when a thunderstorm with lightning entered the area just after 4 p.m.

The event, which drew thousands of environmentalists and music fans, was organized by the Earth Day Network in partnership with the Green Apple Music and Arts Festival and included performers such as the Roots, O.A.R, and Warren Haynes.

Blake Lewis, a past runner-up from the TV show “American Idol” opened the festival and offered apologies for the dreary weather to the youthful crowd.

“I’m from Seattle,” he said. “I’m sorry. I brought the rain with me.”

Actors Chevy Chase and Ed Begley Jr. were among those attending yesterday’s festival in the District and provided their insight and motivation toward creating greater awareness of the environment.

Mr. Chase said he and his wife, Jayni Chase, have supported Earth Day for nearly 30 years.

Mr. Begley said he has been a supporter of the environment since 1970 and that being environmentally conscious has changed his life.

“During the 1970s, I was a struggling actor with very little money. I was on an extreme budget. So I saved money by being green, and in return, I saved green,” Mr. Begley said.

He said he was at the festival to send the messages of success that the country has had in bettering the environment, as well as to inspire others to keep up the effort.

“We’ve gone halfway up the mountain. Now we have to keep on going,” Mr. Begley said.

The crowd was thin at the beginning of the rally, which started at about noon. By midafternoon, spectators numbered in the thousands.

Small tents were set up on the festival grounds with vendors providing visitors with information on how to be environmentally conscious. Vendors such as Google set up laptops so visitors could post messages on its environmental page and find environmental groups that they might be interesting in joining.

Representatives from TCP Inc. gave away packs of environmentally friendly light bulbs, and Horizon Organic offered samples of organic yogurt.

Mary-Carson Sanders, a volunteer working at the Earth Day Network booth, was happy to see the crowd and the many different organizations.

“We’re excited everyone’s here,” she said.

Yesterday’s event was one of several in cities across the country to mark Earth Day, which was founded in 1970. The Earth Day Network aims to spread information and promote change in environmental policies that are affecting people on a local and national scale.

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