Earth Hour: Philly stays lit while others go dark

A Philadelphia sunrise, as seen from Lancaster Avenue and 59th Street, casting an orange glow Nov. 29, 2011. (Michael S. Wirtz / Staff Photographer)

Earth Hour has been around a few years now. And according to the organizers of the planet-wide go-dark event, a record 147 countries and territories are joining in.

But not so much Philly.

At 8:30 p.m. local time Saturday, iconic places of all sorts will be turning out the lights for one hour to signal support for combating climate change and otherwise taking care of Earth. They include the Great Wall of China, Buckingham Palace, teh Las Vegas strip and the Empire State Building.

Participating for the first time this year are Libya, Algeria, Bhutan and French Guinea. Syndney, Australia, where it all began in 2007, is really turning out the lights in a big way.

Here? Well, a few buildings will likely turn off a few "nonessential" lights. Sara Allan, a Penn student who has been pushing the event, has heard some talk of it, but not much, apparently. She said PECO might put up a message on its ticker. And, uh, a few lights at City Hall might go out. But ....

Meanwhile, Allan has been working on Penn's event. On the "high rise lawn" at 39th and Locust Walk, organizers (the Political Committee of Penn Environmental Group) will hand out free s'mores, to the music of M. Dawg and the Katy Kellys.

Over at the Ritz-Carlton, they're getting into the act. The historic property is turning off all exterior lighting and all non-essential public area lighting, and glow sticks will be provided to help navigate the hotel and 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge, the management reports.  And 10 Arts’ Chef de Cuisine Nathan Volz is planning a few green-type goodies.

The National Hockey League reports its teams will turn off nonessential lighting....which brings up the obvious question for all these facilities: How do you define nonessential? It probably won't matter for the Fyers anyway. They're hosting the Senators at 1 p.m. Saturday.

For the rest of us, eco-types are urging that we turn off lights at home and chill out. SCA Americas polled its employees to get their suggestions of what to do in the dark.

Oddly, they did not come up with the one thing that many people do. (Hint: See yesterday's blog post about condoms.)

Here's their list:

  • Go outdoors to stargaze and look for constellations.
  • Take a moonlit walk for exercise.
  •  Light a fireplace and “camp out” inside with family and friends; and maybe even make S’mores.
  • Curl up with a good book and read by candlelight or flashlight. (Any eye doctors want to weigh in on that one?)
  •  Take a few minutes to relieve stress through meditation.
  •  Practice the art of storytelling and share some family history.
  •  Have a living room concert. Pull out the guitar or sit at the piano and invite others to join in.
  •  Call an old friend and catch up for an hour.
  •  Play board games with family and friends, by candlelight of course.
  •  Early to bed. We could all use more sleep. Why not tonight?