WASHINGTON – Great music, great weather and the best ticket price in town – free — brought thousands of people from across the region, and even across the Atlantic Ocean, to the National Mall to celebrate Earth Day as they listened to messages of hope and had fun in the sun. The message was about climate change, protecting the environment and ending global poverty, the sun brought 80 degree temperatures and the music was provided Saturday by some of the biggest names in the music industry, Usher, No Doubt, Fall Out Boy, Mary J. Blige, Common and others.
The crowd included Kristina Norman from Great Britain.
"I am visiting here from the U.K.,” Norman aid. “We were just trying to walk around and see everything, and then someone told us about it. It's such a gorgeous day. Everyone should be here."
The event, which was streamed live using solar energy, was a joint initiative with the Global Poverty Project, an organization whose goal is to end extreme poverty, and other groups.Several speakers also took the stage to share some of their thoughts on the importance of Earth Day, including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the president of the World Bank, im Yong Kim, actor Don Cheadle and the rock group Coldplay’s Chris Martin.
A crippled Usher hopped on the stage with golden crutch in tow and performed for the crowd despite just having surgery on his leg a few weeks ago. He told the crowd how important it is for people to educate themselves on the important issues affecting society.
"To end poverty, it starts, in my opinion, with an education about it,'' he said. Attendees were also asked to sign petitions going around for a scheduled December United Nations conference on climate change in Paris.
The event coincided with the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, which is officially observed on April 22, and the meetings at World Bank and International Monetary Fund Area residents, weather weary from one of the region’s most brutal winters, said they enjoyed the music and the climate.
"I think this concert came right on time, and the weather was in accordance, perfect weather for a perfect cause,” Erica Watson said. “It can't really get any better," Watson said.
Brittany Highland traveled from Manassas, Va., with her three small children to enjoy the concert, but also, she said, to teach her children about making a difference.
"My babies are so little, but I want to teach them that you have to make a difference in the world if you want to see change,” Highland said. “This was a perfect blend of fun and education for us all."
The rally also looked to help bring awareness to the U.N.'s sustainable development goal of eliminating poverty by 2030.
"Climate change is something that affects us all,” Highland said. “Even those of us who are older cannot deny how the weather has been changing. If you care anything about the generations to follow, you'd pick up a book and learn how to make a difference."