America celebrates the centennial of the National Park Service this year with some high-profile publicity for the nation’s parks. First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush are serving as honorary co-chairs of the National Park Service’s centennial celebration, highlighted by Find Your Park, a public awareness and education campaign celebrating the milestone centennial anniversary, specifically targeting millennials; all the hoopla of course generates publicity opportunities for more than the parks, with some heavy-duty corporate sponsors getting in on the action: American Express, Budweiser, Subaru, REI, Humana, Disney, Coca Cola, Coleman, and Accenture are all listed as official sponsors. Among the special commemorations in the works is a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Roosevelt Arch in Yellowstone National Park on the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service Organic Act, enacted on August 25, 1916.
Yes, it’s a big year for the national parks, and with oil prices at record lows, we can expect hundreds of millions of visitors to pack up their vehicles and head to their favorite parks or seek out new wild places to discover for themselves, shattering again attendance records set last year at nearly every park. But keeping in mind that it was the National Park Service that came into being a hundred years ago, not the parks themselves, I have to wonder: has there ever been such enthusiasm for the centennial of a government agency? ♨