My neighborhood has hosted a summer solstice parade since 1989. Without really knowing anything about it, I attended the festival the first summer I lived in Seattle (1993) when it just seemed like any other summer festival and the Fremont neighborhood seemed very far away from my central area apartment. I still have the batik bedspread I bought that year. Now I live two blocks from the parade route and have a much more intimate understanding of the festival.
It’s not your regular summer festival. The parade rules:
- No printed words, signage or recognizable logos.
- No live animals (except guide animals).
- No motorized vehicles (except motorized wheelchairs)
- No functional weapons.
The festival is a completely nonmotorized, noncommercial celebration of sunshine, life, art and creativity. The better for basking in the sun, a festival of this sort involves a fair bit of nudity. Most famously, naked cyclists. I used to love their creative body paint costumes, the double take when you tried to figure out which riders were clothed and which were not.
But the naked cyclists have proliferated in recent years, in my opinion to the detriment of the festival. Just as the belly dancers once did, the cyclists’ numbers threaten to overwhelm the parade. Many of the newcomers don’t bother with artistic paint designs. Worse, their fame has drawn hundreds of pervs from the suburbs who have no interest in the rest of the celebration and just want to take pictures of naked people.
But the rest of the festival is still there, and it is still filled with incredible creations. Like this 15-foot-tall puppet from 2014.