Dark clouds and rain couldn't mask the beauty of the surrounding mountains, calm water and looming monolith to the gathering of residents celebrating Earth Day and the notion of keeping Nexen Beach a "people's park" on Sunday (April 19).
Visitors toured information booths while live bands shared the rhythm with a series of environmental speakers, including Coun. Patricia Heintzman, Wilderness Committee campaign director Joe Foy and Clean Bin Project stewards Jen Rustemeyer and Grant Baldwin.
Youngsters munched on handmade fudge with painted faces and 835 Griffin Squadron Royal Canadian Air Cadets kept the bonfire and barbecue stoked to keep everyone warm and fed.
"This has got to be the people's park," said Squamish Environmental Conservation Society (SECS) president Catherine Jackson while surveying the scene.
"Whatever else happens on the oceanfront, fine. It should be developed for residential and businesses, let's make money from that and make it happen. But this spot here should be the people's place."
The event gave local residents an opportunity to share ideas and build inspiration. Vancouver residents Rustemeyer and Baldwin were on Day 294 of living according to their Clean Bin Project, which requires them to purchase and consume only materials that do not end up as landfill waste over the course of a year. All packaging, for example, must be either recyclable or able to be composted.
Jackson said she was very impressed by the pair's personal investment in making a difference.
"They're showing how ordinary people can turn things around," she said.
About 20 people started the day by cycling in from the Adventure Centre with a large flag waving displaying a picture of Earth. The poor weather contributed to the number of participants dropping from 50 cyclists last year, said SECS board member Lorrie Lech.
She went on to oversee the One Less Car bashing activity, helping kids and adults take a sledge hammer to a car that once was on the road spewing exhaust.
Griffin Squadron Capt. Dave Timms had 16 cadets from as far at Mount Currie on hand all day managing the site.
"We're here for the same reason everybody else from the community is here - showing support," he said.
"A big part of the cadet program is involvement in citizenship activities. It allows them to appreciate what's going on in the world and in the community."
The spirit of Earth Day continued across town as residents collected trash for Pitch-In Week.