FLORIDA KEYS — Officially Earth Day is celebrated April 22, but in the Florida Keys, surrounded by a national marine sanctuary and paralleled by the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef, a variety of events take place leading up to the planet-wide celebration.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, mile marker (MM) 102.5 oceanside in Key Largo, celebrates by hosting a native plant day Saturday, March 27, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Attractions include guest speakers, informational booths, activities for children, guided tours and plant giveaways. Mention “native plant” or Earth Day at the park entrance for free admission. For information or accessibility needs, call 305-451-1202.

One of the Keys’ biggest Earth Day celebrations is set for Saturday, April 10, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bahia Honda State Park, MM 36.8. Park entry is free, and attractions include live music, a sand sculpture contest, fish printing, puppet shows and more than 20 environmental education booths. For information, call the Sand and Sea Nature Center at 305-872-9807.

Dolphin Research Center, MM 59 bayside on Grassy Key, plans to host its annual Ocean Celebration Day Thursday, April 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Geared toward school-age children, the event features dolphin behavior demonstrations, environmental exhibits and puppet shows. General admission is $19.50 for adults, $16.50 for senior citizens and $13.50 for children 4 to 12. For information, call 305-289-1121.

Cheeca Lodge and Spa, MM 81.8 oceanside in Islamorada, is hosting its annual Earth Day Celebration from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 24. Highlights include a beach sand sculpture event where “sculptors” spell out an environmental message in gigantic letters that are visible from the air. The schedule offers a full day of beachfront activities, environmental education exhibits, live music and a beachfront barbecue grill. Proceeds from the family-friendly event are to benefit the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center. For information, call 305-517-4411.

For more Florida Keys information, including accommodations and a complete event calendar, visit the Florida Keys & Key West Web site at www.fla-keys.com.

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