SACRAMENTO (AP) - Gov. Edmund Brown Jr. hosted California's Celebration of the Whale Saturday and declared that the exhibit could have worldwide impact.
An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people — about a third of them children — attended the day long series of exhibits, entertainment and lectures hosted by the Democratic governor at the Sacramento Civic Auditorium.
Brown did not discuss in detail the dispute over the commercial fishing by Japanese and others for the diminishing number of whales in the Pacific Ocean, but said:
"As a mammal, their survival is symbolic of our own."
Brown, who raised funds from several industrial firms, including some Japanese firms, for the event, spent about an hour touring exhibits of environmental groups, state agencies and private firms.
He said the fact that so many thousands of people took part in his "Celebration of the Wale" will "have an impact, not only in California, not only in the nation, but across the world ... people are watching."
He called it "an opportunity for people to enjoy themselves, to learn, to celebrate."
Brown refused to either endorse or disclaim the "Boycott Japanese Goods" buttons that many of the Whale Day exhibitors and guests wore, but he said he personally telephoned and invited the Japanese ambassador to the event.
He said in his invitation, which was declined, he did not discuss Japanese whaling and said his event would be "a positive day," no one criticizing anyone.
Highlight of the event was a concert slated by entertainers Joni Mitchell and Country Joe McDonald.
Later Brown made an unannounced visit to the California junior Statesmen convention at a nearby hotel and answered questions from an audience of about 600 high school students.
Questioned about affirmative action programs, a hotly debated issue among the student legislators, Brown said he supports opening government to a wider variety of people, but that he doesn't like quotas or formulas about who to hire or not hire.