SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The 1969 Santa Barbara offshore oil spill was one of the worst environmental events in local history, but from it has come an annual event that celebrates efforts to create a healthier earth.
This weekend a two day "Earth Day" festival will take place at Alameda Park in downtown.
The 1969 oil spill in the Santa Barbara Channel turned the water black, killed marine life and shore birds, and also brought an environmental movement to the surface that went across the country.
"Yea that oil spill when it hit the shores, it galvanized this community and sent shock waves across the nation. Legislators went back to their offices and in D.C. and said this is just unacceptable," said Dave Fortson with the Community Environmental Council.
Earth Day was once thought to be something of a "hippy era" event. Now, it's one of the biggest events of the year, with thousands of people out to see see and hear the latest environmental message.
"This is a mainstream movement to become more sustainable and not have to sacrifice the quality of your car or the performance of what is going on in your house or your lifestyle," said Fortson
The festival will feature 250 booths and exhibits, live music, demonstrations, and very little energy will be used.
There will also be a bicycle valet for 1000 bikes, hosted by the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition.
One solar company is even drawing on the sun to power the grid..
Brian Ghiglia with REC Solar says, "We've got a 4 kw system here that will be plugged into the grid and contributing to the power for the overall event."
He says these days energy savings products are more affordable than in the past, and many come with tax breaks.
"When you look at the cost of your utility power and reconcile that against the cost of solar energy very quickly it makes sense, and now we have financing options," said Ghiglia.
The environmental message will be displayed in many ways over both sides of Alameda Park. In the middle will be hybrid and electric cars lining one city block including the high end Tesla, that will be on display for test drives.
There will also be events for children and some will be hands on.
Santa Barbara will have a plastic bag ban in place beginning May 14th, and many vendors will have free reusable bags for shoppers.