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Solstice Parade

Started: 2019-07-22 19:45:57

Submitted: 2019-07-22 21:22:44

Visibility: World-readable

22 June 2019: In which the intrepid narrator watches the body-painted Solstice Cyclists and the Fremont Solstice Parade, featuring Julian with Catzilla

The Seattle neighborhood of Fremont leans into its quirkiness to an extent that some might find excessive. This is the neighborhood that has a troll under a bridge, a giant socialist-realist statue of Lenin, a rocket attached to the side of a building, and several planets attached to various buildings.

But it's on the summer solstice that Fremont goes all out, with a parade snaking through the neighborhood into next-door Wallingford, ending at Gasworks Park. Julian's preschool, Our Beginning, staged a float in the parade; Julian rode on the float and Kiesa walked with him, leaving me to drag Calvin out of the house to stake out a piece of the street next to Gasworks Park, near the terminus of the parade.

Parade marshals ahead of the Fremont Solstice Parade
Parade marshals ahead of the Fremont Solstice Parade

The parade was supposed to start at 13:00. At the end of the route I expected the start of the parade to be delayed. The first I saw was a couple of parade marshals on bicycles at 13:10, soon followed by the Solstice Cyclists, dressed only in elaborate body paint with colorful costumes (or close-fitting undergarments that were then painted along with the rest of their bodies).

Body-painted people in the Solstice Cyclists
Body-painted people in the Solstice Cyclists

The Solstice Cyclists were not officially part of the Solstice Parade, but they showed up anyway, and the parade organizers were unwilling to barricade the streets, so the cyclists rode through the streets, celebrating the solstice on their own terms (with as little clothing as they saw fit).

Body-painted people in the Solstice Cyclists
Body-painted people in the Solstice Cyclists

After ten minutes the cyclists passed and the street grew empty. It took more than an hour, though, for the proper parade to reach us; we watched the cyclists return from the end of the parade at Gasworks Park, often (but not always) dressed in more clothing.

Dancers in the Fremont Solstice Parade
Dancers in the Fremont Solstice Parade

Eventually the leading edge of the parade reached us, with a group of dancers in matching costumes waving tambourines. (I have no idea what they were doing either.) The parade explicitly banned (corporate) logos and text of any kind, trying to avoid becoming another corporate logo-fest like Pride; but this left me wondering who the groups were and what they were trying to say in their entries in the parade. For the most part they just seemed to be celebrating the solstice spirit, however they interpreted it; though in some cases the iconography was more obvious.

Julian in the Our Beginning float in the Fremont Solstice Parade
Julian in the Our Beginning float in the Fremont Solstice Parade

Julian's float was towards the front of the parade, with a large papier-mâché cat on a trailer pulled by several adults. (Motors were also banned from the parade, so all of the vehicles were human-powered, usually in the form of carts of various sizes.) According to the e-mail from preschool, the cat is supposed to be looming over the city of Seattle, like a friendly catzilla. (In the picture above, Julian is sitting on the front corner of the float wearing a black cat costume.)

Tie-die kazoo orchestra in the Fremont Solstice Parade
Tie-die kazoo orchestra in the Fremont Solstice Parade

After Julian's preschool passed, we saw a tie-die kazoo orchestra and several lion dances.

Lion dance in the Fremont Solstice Parade
Lion dance in the Fremont Solstice Parade

The float with the most obvious iconography was a pro-environmental message with evil fossil fuels on one side of scale weighed against transit and sun (and, I presume, good vibes) on the other side.

Pro-environment float in the Fremont Solstice Parade
Pro-environment float in the Fremont Solstice Parade

There was also a Flying Spaghetti Monster, surrounded by devotees carrying pool noodles and wearing colander hats. One person was an adherent of the presumably-heterodox gluten-free pasta sect.

Flying Spaghetti Monster in the Fremont Solstice Parade
Flying Spaghetti Monster in the Fremont Solstice Parade

Then there were things I couldn't explain: a purple dragon (or maybe a unicorn?) rolling on a cart like a wheelbarrow.

Purple dragon at the Fremont Solstice Parade
Purple dragon at the Fremont Solstice Parade

A person dressed up in a long orca costume that was still light enough to be waved around the street.

Orca in the Fremont Solstice Parade
Orca in the Fremont Solstice Parade

And, finally, another Flying Spaghetti Monster, this one painted on a sail bike.

Flying Spaghetti Monster sail bike in the Fremont Solstice Parade
Flying Spaghetti Monster sail bike in the Fremont Solstice Parade

At length, more than two hours after the parade was supposed to start, the last entry made its way past us, signaling the end of the parade, and the end of a culturally-significant Fremont institution.

For more pictures of the Solstice Cyclists and the Fremont Solstice Parade, see Photos on 2019-06-22.

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