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Public Lands Day 2011: special events, no entry fees

On Sept. 24, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, invite Americans to go for a walk, kick a ball, plant a tree or simply relax in a national park in observance of National Public Lands Day.

As part of the 18th annual celebration, the National Park Service will waive all entrance fees and host special events for visitors and volunteers.

For the largest National Public Lands Day event taking place this year, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation have partnered with Nickelodeon to host the 8th annual Worldwide Day of Play.

The flagship Worldwide Day of Play event will take place in Washington, D.C., on the Ellipse in President’s Park, next to the White House. This year’s Worldwide Day of Play will be the biggest yet, with an entire day of physical activities and games for kids and their families to encourage active and healthy lifestyles.

The National Park Service has developed a special Junior Ranger program for the day that will give kids a pedometer and encourage them to walk the length of trails in national parks across the country. National park rangers will also help kids try out a climbing wall and test their speed in a tent-raising race.

Also on Sept. 24, Nickelodeon’s networks and Web site will go dark from noon to 3:00 p.m. (ET/PT) in an effort to inspire kids and families to get up and get active. Visit http://www.worldwidedayofplay.com for more information.

In addition to the Worldwide Day of Play activities taking place in Washington, D.C., National Public Lands Day will be celebrated in national parks coast-to-coast. Here are some great ways to enjoy the day – and the fee free admittance – to all of America’s 395 national parks.

CALIFORNIA
John Muir National Historic Site - Grand opening of the renovated visitor center

COLORADO
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument – No Child Left Inside Day “unplug” and join in fun games and music

HAWAII
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Lei, Hula, and ‘Ukulele Lessons

LOUSIANA
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park – Folklife Demonstrations of Cajun music, dancing, and quilting

MICHIGAN
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – Au Sable Day 2011 celebrates the park’s 1874 light station with tours and games

MINNESOTA
Mississippi National River & Recreation Area – Paddleboat RAVE!

MISSISSIPPI
Natchez Trace Parkway – Pioneer Day

TEXAS
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument – Small Fry Fishing Lessons

VERMONT
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park – Forest Festival Weekend with horse-drawn wagon rides and wood crafts for kids

VIRGINIA
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park and Richmond National Battlefield Park are just two of the Civil War parks featuring living history encampments.

FLORIDA
Help remove marine debris at Biscayne National Park.


GEORGIA
Restoration work on historic homes at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site

GUAM
Plant native seeds at War in the Pacific National Historical Park.

IOWA
Reconstruct an 81-acre tallgrass prairie at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site.

PENNSYLVANIA
Plant flowers at the Liberty Bell Center.

National Public Lands Day is the country’s biggest single-day effort to spruce up parks and other open space. Volunteer work projects are planned for every state. There are 70 national parks among the hundreds of sites hosting events.

A complete list can be found at http://www.publiclandsday.org. Every volunteer will receive a voucher for free entrance to a national park.

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