COLUMBIA - Thousands of cities around the world will participate in this year's Earth Hour celebration, and Columbia is one city that is switching off its lights for the sixth year in a row.
Monta Welch, president of CCCC, said Earth Hour is a way the community can act in solidarity to bring attention to the environment.
Welch said, "Whether you're an individual, a business, an organization, a school entity - whatever - where are we on this ‘going green' continuum for sustainability for present and future generations to help us create this healthier and more sustainable future?"
Events start Thursday with a kick off at City Hall at noon where the public can take a "green" tour of the building to see its sustainable features. Other Thursday events include:
• Free bus rides from Columbia Public Transit all day (and also on Saturday)
• Educational "Forum on Sustainability and Climate Justice" at the MU Arts and Science building
• Lights off from 8:30 - 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 23, is the worldwide Earth Hour Day in which many famous landmarks will go dark from 8:30 - 9:30 p.m., with citizens encouraged to switch off lights and electronics in their homes.
In Columbia, several restaurants will serve dinner and drinks in candlelight during that hour including: Bleu, Sycamore, Addison's, Flat Branch, Sophia's and Lakota Coffee. Local artists will also play acoustic music outside near those businesses.
Residents can also watch as landmarks like Jesse Hall and the MU columns shut off their lights. Some said they enjoy this one hour every year because it allows time to reconnect with family.
"I've always thought that we should do it once a week, or maybe, you know, more than once a year because ... it's a time for family to be together and come together and maybe take that time to talk," said Shari Corthuis, a Columbia resident.
Corthuis added her family has participated in Earth Hour all six years and turns off all electronics, including cell phones. She said last year they spent the hour watching the stars.
To learn more about the history of Earth Hour, visit earthhour.org.
For more information about city events visit gocolumbiamo.com.