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The NPS 100th Birthday Is Kicking Off Tonight In NYC And Continues With All Parks Free On Thursday

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In case you missed it, the National Park Service is turning 100 years old on the 25th. Which is a big deal — where would we be (and or run or drink beer?) without Yellowstone and Yosemite and Zion, and all the other great spots that make up America’s 412 national parks? Thank you, Woodrow Wilson.

While the whole summer has been one big National Park Service party, the peak of it all is today’s giant birthday bash at New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park. Get excited, because there’s ice cream, there’s music, and there’s Bill Nye.

The ice cream is compliments of Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (read: free ice cream!), and will be available during today’s ice cream social, from 1:30-3:30 p.m.. The best part: it’s National Park-themed ice cream. We’re talking nine different flavors, like Rocky Mountain Vanilla Chocolate Chunk, Strawb-Ellis Island, Crater Lake Chocolate, Joshua Peach Tree & Cream, Golden Gate Birthday Cake, and more.

The music part of the day will start during the ice cream social, when the kid-friendly band Ramblin’ Dan comes on at 2 p.m. At 5:45, Atlas Genius will take the stage for an hour. And stick around until the end of the night for a chance to hear Questlove, aka frontman for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’s in-house band, The Roots. He’ll be on at 8 p.m.

What else is going on, besides music and free ice cream? Plenty of cool stuff. Companies like American Express, Subaru, and Coca-Cola will host interactive stations featuring games to support the national parks and education on waste reduction (gotta keep those parks beautiful for the next 100 years) and the Active Trails initiative. There will also be sand art, corn hole, temporary tattoos, games, and prizes for the kiddos.

And yes, we did mention Bill Nye. As in, the Science Guy, the dude from your childhood Saturday mornings that you still legitimate love. (How can you not? He’s freaking awesome.) He’ll be hanging around the park from 7:45-10 p.m., leading attendees in what may be the coolest interactive game ever, where they’ll work together to control the color of the One World Trade Center spire.

The game is called “Edison’s Lightbulb” and will take place on the Edison Floor Installation, a digital circuit board that will be set up with two other games throughout the day. (We told you! Games!) Participants in Edison’s Lightbulb will work together to reflect a current into an Edison bulb. When that current enters the bulb, it will turn either red, green, blue, purple, or orange, and trigger the spire of One World Trade Center across the river to reflect the same color. Confusing? Maybe. But Bill Freaking Nye will be there to explain it to you in detail.

Sound like a party? Then get the heck over to Brooklyn Bridge Park — you can find more details on everything at the NPS invitation page. All of this is free, so you really have no excuse. Except, uh, maybe not being physically present in New York. In which case, just wait until Thursday, when all 412 National Parks will be opening their gates to anyone and everyone for free. This weekend might just be the perfect time to hop in the car and enjoy some of that natural beauty that’s been preserved for the past hundred years.

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