With the intent to promote the outdoors and nature rather than shopping and merchandise on Black Friday, the California State Park Foundation offered a limited amount of free “Green Day Passes” on Nov. 25, allowing pass holders to visit state parks for free. Over 13,000 passes were available, and a significant portion of the passes were obtained before Black Friday, causing many free passes to run out. The free day use parking pass was available for 116 state parks across California, including popular destinations such as Big Basin and Red Rock Canyon State Parks. The ultimate goal of Green Friday was to build appreciation for California State Parks and to generate support for the State Park Foundation. The Save the Redwoods League, California State Park Foundation and the State Parks Agency funded and supported Green Friday by purchasing the 13,000 passes and distributing them to various parks. With their allocated number of passes, these parks allotted the Green Friday passes by a first come first serve basis to anyone who requested them. Green Friday is expected to continue annually for several more years. Green Friday existed on Black Friday in 2015 as well, yet there was an increase of more than 140% of state parks who participated in Green Friday this year.
By Nov. 20, 24 out of the 28 state parks in the Bay Area, Santa Cruz Counties and Monterey counties had already given away all their Green Passes. Portola Redwoods State Park in La Honda, California, one of the several California State Parks that sold out of Green Day passes prior to Black Friday, saw many visitors on Nov. 25.
“I think [the green passes] get people out, which is most important. You are supporting something other than just franchises. State Parks [are] really important to keep around and they need the funding. I am an advocate for people getting out [into nature],” Camille Oneto, park aid worker at Portola Redwoods State Park, said.
Morris, another volunteer at Portola Redwoods State Park, also favors nature over shopping, and views Black Friday, a time of congested malls and shopping outlets, as a perfect time to gain exposure to nature. “What would you rather do,” he remarked, “come in with nature and be out where the air is clear [and there are] small crowds, or get into crowds where people are fighting over objects?”
Jordan Castillo, a former graduate of Cupertino High School from the Class of 2005, did not own a Green Pass because it sold out yet still embarked on the trails of the Portola Redwoods and admired the nature. Said Castillo, who was traveling with a companion, “I am not looking to spend money today. I think Thanksgiving is one of the last holidays that has not been [fully] commercialized and [is] still about family. It is nice to keep that going through the rest of the weekend [...] Get outside, see some waterfalls [and] check out the redwoods.”
A similar trend existed with many visitors at this state park. “I do not have a lot of money to spend today, so I thought I would spend it with my friend out in nature,” Amy Anderson, another park visitor, said while observing the map of the various hiking trails at the park’s visitor center.
Overall, with improvements from last year and a large portion of the passes sold, many California State Park volunteers and visitors were satisfied with the result.