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March 22, 2013
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Summit again to shut off the lights for Earth Hour

At 8:30 p.m. Saturday night, Summit County will go dark.

Or parts of it will, at least, as five local governments, several schools, one ski area and countless residents turn off the lights for 60 minutes in recognition of Earth Hour, a global initiative aiming to raise awareness of climate change.

"It's a symbolic gesture that we are aware of our footprint on the Earth," Breckenridge Mayor John Warner said. "It's an acknowledgement that we do make an impact and we'd like people to get behind a very small sacrifice."

Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon, Silverthorne, the county government and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area will participate in Earth Hour this year, turning off all non-essential electronic devices from 8:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday.

The public and the business community are encouraged to do the same.

The event is a global initiative, but it got started in Summit County in 2009 with a 15-year-old student, who wasn't trying to make a global impact; rather, like many teenagers, he was trying to discover who he was and what he stood for.

Patrick Paden introduced Earth Hour to the Silverthorne Town Council as part of a project for the International Baccalaureate program at Summit High School. He could not have anticipated the enthusiasm with which his community would respond to his lights-out campaign.

"Little did I know that what I was about to start in Summit County would get the attention of the world," Paden wrote in a statement on the local project.

Silverthorne embraced the idea that first year, and within two years, every local government and every school in the county was on board. The schools actually turned the lights out for a full day prior to Earth Hour to raise awareness among students.

The Summit County Earth Hour project had a banner year in 2012. Arapahoe Basin signed on to the initiative, becoming the first ski area in the world to participate and the national Earth Hour organization began taking notice of the local effort.

Now a junior and environmental design major at the University of Colorado, Paden is trying to top last year's campaign with an event marking the occasion on Saturday at Arapahoe Basin. Local radio station Krystal 93 will host, and the event will include information tents and the first-ever Earth Hour Harlem Shake.

"I encourage all residences and business owners this year to power down and make a great night of the event," Paden stated in a release. "Break out some candles, play some board games, invite people over and simply have a great time with the lights off."

Last year, Earth Hour took place in more than 7,000 cities in 152 countries around the world.

Additional information about the project is available online at www.earthour.org.


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The Summit Daily Updated Mar 22, 2013 12:26AM Published Mar 22, 2013 12:23AM Copyright 2013 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.