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Eco pageant readies for in-person return with sustainable costume, puppet design workshops

BY JULIET CAMA | Felicia Young, the founder of Earth Celebrations, combines the arts with climate change awareness in her Ecological City: Art & Climate Solutions Pageant and workshops.

Earth Celebrations is a nonprofit organization promoting ecological change through the arts in the East Village and Lower East Side. Founded in 1991, Earth Celebrations has successfully preserved local community gardens and has developed partnerships with hundreds of organizations looking to make a change. Additionally, Earth Celebrations has established multiple collaborative arts projects promoting climate awareness.

At the workshops, participants will create unique, sustainably made garments, costumes and puppets.

“The arts provide this bridge to connect emotionally in a deeper understanding,” Young said. “It’s different than just reading facts about climate change when you’re actually involved and creating through the arts.”

Through May 11, New Yorkers can participate in the Ecological City workshops, which work toward the culminating pageant on May 14. The workshops meet on Wednesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.

Suggested design guidelines for a Community Garden Spirit costume.

At the free workshops, people have the opportunity to collaborate with resident artists to create puppets, costumes and visual art, all while learning and building their climate awareness.

“All of the visuals created explore the different sites and climate solutions within them,” Young explained.

Additionally, artists will utilize bio-art, a sustainable art form that will be incorporated into costume designs. This includes the adaption of eco-friendly materials, such as mycelium fungi, kombucha, seaweed and natural pigments derived from spices and fruits.

Natural materials, like marigolds, moss and mycelium fungi, to name just a few, will be used to create the colorful, climate-friendly costumes.

These costumes will be showcased at the pageant, which features an extravagant 11-mile, five-hour procession to 20 sustainability sites throughout the East Village and Lower East Side.

“These are climate solutions that exist between the gardens, the neighborhood and the waterfront,” Young said.

New Yorkers are encouraged to get involved and volunteer for one of the many different roles in the pageant, such as costume-wearers, puppeteers, dancers and more. Participants in the parade will not only receive an outlet for self-expression but also spread awareness of climate change implications that directly affect their community.

Participants always get a lift out of the Earth Celebrations pageant. (Photo by Rachel Elkind)

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Ecological City had to be moved to a remote platform. However, the lockdown didn’t stop Earth Celebrations from promoting its cause. When New York shut down to quarantine, Young and resident artists took immediate action by beginning online workshops and later hosting a virtual pageant.

“We had not only all the participants who had agreed to be a part of the virtual pageant, but we had even more because we had people tuning in from around the world,” Young noted.

This year’s pageant will be the first to be held entirely in person in two years. Young is extremely excited to have an in-person parade but urges the importance of abiding by health and safety protocols. Accordingly, all participants will be required to be masked, and the application of face makeup will be reduced to prevent skin-to-skin contact.

Nonetheless, this year’s pageant will be as close to entirely normal as possible and is sure to provide a creative and inspiring experience to all participants

For more information about Earth Celebrations and Ecological City, visit ​​

To sign up for the free workshops through May 11, click here.

To volunteer for the May 14 pageant, click here.

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