This Sunday evening, September 27 at 8pm, the long awaited Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea premieres on PBS. The documentary stories the inspiring individuals who dedicated themselves to establishing our National Park System and to protecting America’s cultural, natural and historic heritage. The series will air a new episode every night next week with the concluding episode on Friday, October 2.
To spread the word about this awesome documentary and get park lovers to share their parks stories with friends and family, the DC-based non-profit, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is organizing nation-wide viewing parties for the Sunday premiere, and they’ve made it super easy to host your own get-together with customized evites, your own personalized party page, helpful party tips and innovative ways to share this documentary with people around the country. “Our goal is to inspire all Americans to dedicate themselves to protecting and preserving our national parks,” says Tom Kiernan, NPCA President, “so that the parks can be enjoyed, explored, and cherished by our children, our grandchildren, and by all future generations.”
Register to host a (private or public) party, and you’ll be entered in a raffle to win 1 of 5 signed copies of award-winning, conservation photographer Ian Shive‘s The National Parks: Our American Landscape. This new, visually stunning photo journey highlights the beauty and majesty of our national parks from Alaska’s Denali to Florida’s Everglades. RSVP’ed guests will also be entered in the drawing, and you, as the host, will get a bonus entry for every guest. Woot!
FYI: These viewing parties do not have to be super fancy or overflowing with attendees. Personally, I’m planning to have a small gathering of family and friends over for some national park-themed food. For example, in honor of T. Rex himself, whose Antiquities Act impacted the National Park System well beyond his presidency, I’ll be trying out this baked beans recipe from The Roosevelt Lodge in Yellowstone National Park.
1 pound hamburger
1/2 pound bacon, chopped into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium onion, chopped into 1/2-inch dice
1 (16 oz) can pork and beans
1 (12 oz) can kidney beans
1 (12 oz) can lima beans
1 (12 oz) can butter bean
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
salt and fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
-Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
-Fry hamburger and bacon together; saute onions with meats. Do not drain.
-Stir in canned beans (for thicker beans, drain the liquid from the canned beans) and remaining ingredients. Place in a large, oven safe bowl.
-Bake in 325 degree F oven for 45 minutes.
However you chose to watch this epic documentary, whether it be solo or with friends, be sure to also check out PBS’s “Share Your Story” website to submit your own visit to a national park story, read other visitors’ experiences and view amazing photos of our nation’s treasures.
Additionally, DC alone represents 37 out of the 391 units comprising the National Park System. So just a reminder that although the towering, ancient trees of Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park may seem like a world away, there are memorials honoring our fallen soldiers, statues immortalizing our founding fathers and monuments preserving the legacy of those who fought for freedom and justice right here in our backyard.