World Whale Day is an annual event held on Maui by the Pacific Whale Foundation, but this year included something new. The Tidal Trash Treasures Art Contest was open to individuals and school groups who used only the materials they gathered during beach clean-ups. In addition, 25 collected cigarette butts were required for entry.
The Pacific Whale Foundation approached the Maui, Molokai, and Lana‘i Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i late last year about partnering on an NOAA grant they received for education around the County of Maui Tobacco-Free Beaches and Parks law. We were invited to have a table at in the festival’s busy Eco-Alley alongside local conservation, sustainability, and other environmental organizations. We were also asked to be judges for the art contest!
Approximately 25,000 visitors attend the annual Whale Day festivities on February 18 at Kalama Park, and this year it felt like they all came by our table! When we set up in the morning the table was full of brochures, stickers, pens, and give-away items, but by the day’s end we were depleted. However, we did leave with an additional four pages of petition signatures for Smoke-Free Cars with Keiki, as well as a stack of testimonials written and colored on by keiki, which we will take to our state legislators to show them in person that the children of Maui support such a law.
By far the most challenging task of the day was judging the Tidal Trash Treasures art competition. Twenty eight entries were submitted and on display, and every single one was thoughtful and creative. We are so proud of the Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) youth who won the school group category for their beautiful honu. Congratulations to them and to MEO youth services for empowering them to succeed.