‘The only thing that matters’ draws large crowd to March for Science

Chilly weather didn’t deter a sizable turnout for the March for Science in downtown Wichita on Saturday. (April 22, 2017)
Chilly weather didn’t deter a sizable turnout for the March for Science in downtown Wichita on Saturday. (April 22, 2017) Courtesy photo

Bundling up against unseasonably chilly temperatures and a brisk north wind, a throng marched through downtown Wichita on Saturday in support of science.

“We both think that science is very important, and we kind of feel it’s being pushed to the back burner a little bit,” Mike Mendez of Newton said as he stood with his wife, Rachel LaFever, in the crowd on the lawn facing the west steps of the Historical Sedgwick County Courthouse at 525 N. Main.

After hearing a series of speeches, a crowd estimated at 1,000 people or more marched down Central to Mid-America All-Indian Center.

Catherine Skaer said she has participated in a number of different marches over the years and that Saturday’s march in support of science was very important.

“Protecting the Earth – it’s the only thing that matters,” Skaer said.

People marched in support of science around the nation and around the world. More than 500 local marches were planned in support of the national march in Washington, D.C., on Earth Day.

“We didn’t choose to be in this battle, but it has come to the point where we have to fight, because the stakes are too great,” climate scientist Michael Mann said while speaking on the National Mall.

Nearly 10,000 people attended the Sedgwick County Zoo's "Party for the Planet" Earth Day event on Thursday, April 20, 2017. (Video by Travis Heying / The Wichita Eagle)

President Trump, in an Earth Day statement hours after the marches kicked off, said that “rigorous science depends not on ideology but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.”

In Wichita, a few of the marchers were so young they needed strollers to get around. Others were old enough to draw Social Security.

Megan Wells brought her 2-year-old daughter, Corinne, to the march.

“She already knows what to do,” Wells said of her young daughter, who was holding a hand-drawn sign that said “I’m with her” as an arrow pointed to planet Earth.

Wells, who works at the zoo, said she came because “we’re people that love science.”

Jerry Sheehy, one of the local event’s organizers, said he was very happy with the turnout, particularly given the chilly weather.

“This was our first attempt at this, and we’re very proud,” Sheehy said. “This is great.”

Coinciding with Earth Day, March for Science was held at Washington Square Park on Saturday in Kansas City. Organizers estimate about 3,000 people, many carrying handmade signs supporting science, took part in the event which featured speakers, a

Contributing: Associated Press