A Little Pretty Please

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Mother Earth scores big time this year.

With Earth Day falling on a Wednesday, Orange County groups have opted to spread the festivities over two weekends. The following is a partial list of coastal cleanups, community fairs, hikes and other activities designed to encourage the public to appreciate Mother Nature's beauty while learning to preserve and protect her for future generations.

Beats the heck out of a Hallmark card, we say.

FRIDAY * High-tech, low-tech, no-tech; thousands of displays and activities created by O.C. kids will help teach sensible use of nature's resources at "The ABC's of Agriculture," part of the three-day 1997 Youth Expo at the Orange County Fairgrounds. The annual event includes interactive entries, a science and engineering fair, an insect and reptile show, livestock exhibits, talent shows and a food bazaar.

88 Fair Drive., Costa Mesa. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Fri., 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. and Sun.. Free admission and parking. (714) 708-1520.

SATURDAY * Pull weeds, pluck litter and plant shrubs and trees at a cleanup in Canyon Park and the surrounding neighborhood. Participants can then enjoy refreshments, live entertainment and prizes at the park. Canned food donations to the Orange County Food Distribution Center are also welcome.

970 Arbor St., Costa Mesa. 9 a.m.-noon. Free. (714) 754-5140.

* March for Parks, organized by the National Parks and Conservation Assn., helps raise funds and appreciation for parks and open spaces. There will be two March for Parks events Saturday:

Guided hikes (3 1/2 miles) sponsored by the Laguna Canyon Foundation and Laguna Greenbelt Inc. start at 8, 8:45 and 9:30 a.m. at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. The hikes are of moderate difficulty and will include access to areas not yet open for recreational use. A $20 fee includes the guided walk, bus transportation, parking and a T-shirt; reservations required. 20101 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. (714) 855-7275.

Rancho Mission Viejo Land Conservancy activities include docent-led nature walks, environmental-themed displays, live music, children's nature crafts and Dr. Sue's Insect and Arthropod Zoo. No registration fee, but walkers are asked to secure at least $20 in pledges (families can walk for a $20 pledge or donation). Advance registration required and the event is open only to registered walkers. Check-in is 9 a.m.; walks leave every 10 to 15 minutes between 9:10 and 10:10 a.m. On Ortega Highway, 5.1 miles east of Interstate 5. (714) 489-9778.

* Mom Nature will be feted with folk tales, ranger-led hikes and nature-themed games and activities at the 3,100-acre O'Neill Regional Park's Earth Day celebration, which also features information booths, storytelling, original artwork of the canyon area and live music.

30892 Trabuco Canyon Road, Trabuco Canyon. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (714) 858-9365.

* "Take out the papers and the trash. . . ." Well, you won't get no spending cash, but you will get the satisfaction of knowing Orange County's beaches will be safer, cleaner places for the animals, plants and humans that hang out there after Saturday's countywide Volunteer Connection Day. Beach cleanup volunteers of all ages are encouraged to grab a bag and lend a hand. Here's a sampling of the locations:

Dana Point: The Doheny Longboard Surfing Assn. sponsors its Sixth Annual Earth Day weekend cleanup at Doheny State Beach, Dana Point Harbor Drive and Pacific Coast Highway. 9 a.m.-noon. (714) 661-1218.

Newport Beach: The Newport chapter of the international Surfrider Foundation will host beach cleanups at the Santa Ana River Jetties, Big Corona and Newport Pier. 8:30 a.m.-noon. Supplies provided and prizes awarded. (714) 631-6273.

San Clemente: The San Clemente chapter of Surfrider is asking people to spend an hour cleaning up litter along the city's coastline. As at the other Surfrider-sponsored events, volunteers will be handing out free trash bags, disposable gloves and a questionnaire to help track the trash problem. In San Clemente, look for their booth at the foot of the pier (at the end of Avenida del Mar) and at Trestles beach parking lot, Cristianitos Road and El Camino Real. 8 a.m.-noon. (714) 492-8170.

Other Surfrider cleanups will be held in Laguna Beach on Main Beach (PCH and Main Street) and at Huntington Beach Cliffs (Goldenwest Street and PCH). 8:30 a.m.-noon. (714) 631-6273.

SUNDAY * Wind willing, the skies over Peralta Canyon Park will be dotted with colorful, fluttering kites. The demo is one of the highlights of "Colors of the Wind," the seventh annual Environmental Faire for families at this grassy Anaheim Hills park. Also new this year: an "Earth Wise" obstacle course in which participants master challenges that "represent the wisest use of our resources and health choices," said coordinator Cathy Glasgow.

Other highlights: arts and crafts projects with recyclable materials, environmental-themed displays, art exhibits and nature activities. Kids caught up in the breezy theme can make their own wind streamers, and every half-hour, entrants in an environmental trivia contest can win prizes ranging from Disneyland passes to a mountain bike.

115 N. Pinney Ave., Anaheim. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. (714) 998-8380.

* Walk the wetter side of Earth Day at Upper Newport Bay's eighth annual celebration. Billed as the largest Earth Day event in the county (more than 3,000 attended last year), it includes marine touch tanks; naturalist-led tours by kayak, canoe and foot; displays by environmental groups; and children's games and activities.

600 Shellmaker Road, Newport Beach. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission and activities are free, but tours fill up quickly, so come early to sign up). (714) 640-6746.

APRIL 26 * You can learn how to have fun with flora and fauna at the Fullerton Arboretum's Green Scene Garden Show. The two-day event includes hands-on potting workshops for kids, horse-drawn trolley rides, a railroad exhibit, clinics for all levels of gardeners and lots of garden-related vendors and information. You can also tour the vintage Heritage House.

1900 Associated Road, Fullerton. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. April 26, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 27. Admission $5, free for visitors 17 and under; separate fees for some activities. (714) 773-3404.

* Now in its second year, Orange's Earth Day Celebration will offer games and crafts using recyclable materials led by Girl Scout volunteers. There will also be displays and demos by area recycling and environmental agencies and a visit by the "worm man," who uses hundreds of his squirmy sidekicks to teach home composting. A steel drum band will be on hand, and in an exotic-parrot show, youngsters will learn about the rain forests.

Hart Park, 701 S. Glassell St., Orange. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Free. (714) 744-7278.

* You can help raise funds for recycling education and local libraries and charities at the city of Placentia's Earth Week Run. Open to all ages, it includes a 1K fun run for kids and a U.S.A. Track & Field-certified 8K course.

Courses start and end at Placentia Linda Hospital, 1301 N. Rose Drive. Registration begins at 6 a.m., first race at 8 a.m. $12-$20. (714) 993-8232.

APRIL 27 * All hail the Queen of Trash! Decked out in her signature trash bag cape and crown, Cypress' monarch of waste management (a.k.a. city recycling coordinator Jamie Herbon) will reign over a hands-on workshop for kids that teaches them how to make something beautiful from their trash. It's all part of the community's Sunday Arts Delight, an Imagination Celebration event that will also feature artist demonstrations, entertainment, student art and literature exhibits.

Cypress Community Center, 5700 Orange Ave. Noon-5 p.m. Free. (714) 229-6780.

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