The rain may have been falling, the lightning flashing and the wind blowing, but the dreary weather conditions on Sunday did not stop thousands of people from gathering at the National Mall for a truly “green” event.

In the third annual Green Apple Festival, musicians and actors including Chevy Chase, Ed Norton, Ed Begley Jr., Warren Haynes and O.A.R. spoke alongside environmentalists in celebration of Earth Day.

“How pressing is the environment? More like `how depressing.’ It is a pressing issue and it has been since the 1950s, and it becomes more pressing every day we don’t keep our stewardship over it,” Chase said.

The Green Apple Festival, which was started in New York City in 2006, expanded the following year to include concerts in San Francisco and Chicago. This year, the festival was the biggest ever, with the addition of five more events held in D.C., Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles and Denver.

The Green Apple Festival and Earth Day Network, an environmental organization, cosponsored the festivals nationwide, which placed more of an emphasis on global warming this year than in past years.

“Global warming is our number-one issue, and we really need to focus on it and bring attention to it. Right now, Congress is doing absolutely nothing on the issue of global warming,” said Lisa Swann, vice president of communications and marketing for Earth Day Network.

Peter Shapiro, executive producer of the Green Apple Festival, said the festival has come a long way in the past two years in its effort to focus attention on Earth Day. “For the world to change, a lot of little things need to happen, and I think one of those things is to make Earth Day as big of a deal every year as possible,” he said.

“Students at Georgetown can do their own little thing, whether it is using different [environmentally friendly] light bulbs or joining organizations and volunteering,” he added. “It’s up to each individual to make a change.”

The event also drew students from college campuses across the nation, non-profit organizations and government agencies who participated in an exposition sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to the EPA, its goal was to display ideas and technology designed to “create a sustainable future.”

Begley, who was referred to as “The Father of Green Hollywood” by those at the event, said growing up in Los Angeles inspired his passion for protecting the environment. “Growing up in smoggy L.A. in the ’50s and ’60s . I bought an electric car, I started recycling, and in that first year, I saw I was not only helping the environment, but I was saving money,” he said. “There have been some really good environmental acts in the past, and now we need to enforce them.”

arriott spokesperson Jay Hamilton said the festival fit right in with Marriott’s corporate responsibility of going green. “A side benefit we also notice is the importance of going green for folks looking for jobs [so that they] can work with a corporation that is socially responsible – to work with a corporation that shares the same beliefs of making the planet greener,” he said. Marriott was just one of the many organizations that leant its support to the event.

Though the event was cut short this year because of the weather, Shapiro said, “We are going to try and do this every year.”

“In my experience, you can’t tell people what to do, they have to make their own decisions,” said Marc Roberge, lead singer and guitarist of O.A.R, in an interview. “If you just make some noise, the future generations . can make it [the environment] better than what it used to be.”

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