Greta Thunberg leaves downtown Iowa City after a climate strike Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, to call attention to climate change. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

IOWA CITY — Several thousand people turned out Friday, Oct. 4, in downtown Iowa City to see Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist who has inspired millions of people worldwide to strike for climate change.

A demonstrator holds a sign during the climate strike in Iowa City. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

“We are the change, and change is coming whether they like it or not,” Thunberg told the crowd gathered at Iowa Avenue and North Dubuque Street during a cool, sunny midday. “Right now, the world leaders keep acting like children and somebody needs to be the adult in the room.”

Students and people of all ages gathered to hear Thunberg, who traveled on a zero-emissions sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean to address the United Nations Climate Action Summit last month in New York.

She was in Chicago before traveling to Iowa in a Tesla, which stopped for recharging in the Quad Cities on the way to Iowa City.

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Thunberg announced her stop in Iowa earlier this week via Twitter:

This Friday I’m happy to say that I’ll join the climate strike in Iowa City! #FridaysForFuture #ClimateStrike #schoolstrike4climate

— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) October 2, 2019

Greta Thunberg is interviewed Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, in Iowa City. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Also on Twitter, Student Climate Strike Iowa City noted that Thunberg initially inspired the group:

Here in Iowa @GretaThunberg more than inspired our climate strike. She emboldened us to step up–everything needs to change. No more excuses. We will strike until adults wake up & change. To have her follow our @IowaCitySchools
strike is an honor #Fridays4Future @usclimatestrike

Led by City High classmates Massimo Biggers and Alex Howe, the group has advocated for Iowa City, the Iowa City Community School District and the University of Iowa to adopt clean energy practices.

Students were among the speakers at the event. A major target of the rally was to encourage the UI to close its coal plant.

The event was moved from the downtown pedestrian mall to accommodate more people. The crowd was estimated at 3,000.

Iowa City artist Ariane Parkes-Perret sketched a portrait of Thunberg for the rally, with an image of the teen surrounded by calendula, snapdragons and other flowers, along with insect pollinators.

“I’m really inspired by her,” Parkes-Perret said. “Climate change is a crucial issue. We have no excuse to ignore it anymore.”

(Photos © Cindy Hadish/Homegrown Iowan)