Santa Barbara, CA, goes all out for Earth Day.

Every year since 1970 — the year that Earth Day was created — the local Community Environmental Council has held the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival. The 2017 edition of the festival (April 21 and 22) will feature live music, speeches, a “green” car show, the March for Science, a “climate mobilization” rally and presentation of the Environmental Hero Award. This year’s festival is expected to attract more than 30,000 visitors.

The festival is billed as one of the longest-running Earth Day observances in the U.S. It’s no wonder, then, that Santa Barbara, along with neighboring Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo, is the top place in the country for interest in Earth Day, according to a LawnStarter review of Google Trends search data.

Gaylord Nelson

The late U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson was the father of Earth Day.
Photo: Green Living

Birthplace of Earth Day

The seeds for Santa Barbara’s annual Earth Day gathering were sown in 1969, when a massive oil spill occurred off the Pacific Coast. U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin Democrat, toured the spill site; upon his return to Washington, DC, he introduced legislation designating April 22 as national Earth Day. The bill soon became law.

As such, Santa Barbara is recognized as the birthplace of Earth Day (and the birthplace of household recycling).

“In the face of gutted environmental protection budgets and suspended national climate plans at the federal level, it is up to individuals and communities to come together and create change at a local level,” says Kathi King, director of the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival. “Today, perhaps more than ever before, it is critical that we get organized and support the groups working for the good of our planet. Earth Day serves as a point in time when we can rally around this idea, spread the message further and engage more citizens in protecting the Earth.”

Kathi King

Kathi King is director of the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival.
Photo: Noozhawk/Santa Barbara City College Foundation

Digging Into the Data

So, how did we come to our conclusion the Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo region is the No. 1 hotspot for Earth Day?

We looked at Google Trends data for April 2012 to April 2017 to determine which areas, over time, had shown the most interest in the Earth Day celebration. Google Trends data indicates how frequently a certain search term is entered in Google compared with overall search volume. On the Google Trends scale, 100 is the top score, and that’s the level that Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo reached.

Top Places for Earth Day

Below is our ranking of the top 10 places in the U.S. for interest in Earth Day, based on our review of Google Trends data.

1. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo, CA

Google Trends score: 100

Santa Barbara Earth Day

Photo: Erin Feinblatt/Santa Barbara Seasons magazine

2. Juneau, AK

Google Trends score: 82

Photo: Juneau Trails Project

3. Reno, NV

Google Trends score: 76

Photo: The Nature Conservancy

4. (tie) Meridian, MS

Google Trends score: 74

Meridian Mississippi

Photo: Meridian/Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau

4. (tie) Laredo, TX

Google Trends score: 74

Laredo La Casa Blanca

Photo: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

6. (tie) Baton Rouge, LA

Google Trends score: 73

Baton Rouge Earth Day

Photo: Yelp

6. (tie) Joplin, MO-Pittsburg, KS

Google Trends score: 73

Joplin Missouri waterfall

Screen shot: YouTube/Caveman Outdoors

8. Columbia-Jefferson City, MO

Google Trends score: 72

Photo: Missouri Department of Natural Resources

9. Wausau-Rhinelander, WI

Google Trends score: 71

Rhinelander WI

Photo: Fishing Rhinelander

10. Jonesboro, AR

Google Trends score: 70

Jonesboro Arkansas

Photo: Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

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