Jun 28, 2016 at 10:51 PM

Living Legends and Mythical Ones Come to Life at 42nd Annual Summer Solstice Parade - Noozhawk, June 25, 2016

By Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation


More than 1,000 revelers dance, twirl and gyrate up Santa Barbara’s State Street as an estimated 100,000 spectators turn out to cheer them on


Locals and visitors from all walks of life ditched their pool noodles and the beach on Saturday to celebrate the start of summer at a gigantic, music-packed street parade through the heart of downtown Santa Barbara.

The Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration has been wowing crowds for more than four decades. Beginning in 1974 as a celebration for a local mime and artist named Michael Gonzalez, it has evolved into one of the largest single-day events in Santa Barbara County.

More than 1,000 participants dressed in vibrant costumes mingled amid creatively decorated floats as the 42nd annual parade began its slow procession up State Street from Cota Street. 

Downtown was filled with more than 30 imaginative handmade floats, surrounded by performers who spent days, if not weeks, on their designs. One participant said his headdress, made of jewels and faux peacock feathers, took more than 15 hours to craft.

Parade goers dressed up as real and fictional characters for this year’s theme called “Legends.” Floats included participants dressed as gypsies, pirates, mermaids, leprechauns and other magical creatures.

San Diego resident Juli Redmerski sported flashy purple fishnet gloves and danced alongside a “Purple Rain” float paying tribute to musical legend Prince, who died in April at age 57. Redmerski participated with friends and said she looked forward to her second Summer Solstice Parade.

“It’s fun to be dressed up in a costume with sparkles, and the atmosphere is great,” Redmerski told Noozhawk. “We don’t have big parades like this in San Diego.”

The main float this year was the “Wings of Honor” sculpture, a tribute to all who served at the West Coast Marine Corps Air Station during World War II. Sponsored by the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation, it was designed as a replica sculpture that will be placed at the Santa Barbara Airport. This was the first time a veterans organization has been involved with the Solstice Celebration.

The parade also featured participants dressed as human legends, such as kings, queens and a float shaped as a huge horse that was dedicated to the tale of theTrojan War. One participant dressed as Elvis Presley and wore a classic white jumpsuit with bead details and a black pompadour wig.

The lively crowd dressed in flower crowns, and with painted faces, threw bright, colored confetti in the air during the parade. Santa Barbara resident Ana Flores and her family watched the performance from the side of the packed street.

“Everyone should come out and enjoy this parade,” she exclaimed. “It’s the beginning of summer and a great way to spend time with the family and community.”

Once the temperature heated up and the last float had finished, the festivities continued at Alameda Park. Local and international artists, food from local restaurants and food trucks, along with art boutiques filled the park. Attendees danced to live music by The BramblesBryan Titus TrioJamie Wyatt and The Bang BangsThe CavernsArea 51 and Spencer the Gardener.

The celebration will continue at noon Sunday with the inaugural Solstice Children’s Parade. The parade is scheduled to begin at the east side of Alameda Park, 1400 Santa Barbara St.

— Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk@NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.




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