by Kirby Lindsay, posted 17 May 2013
On Saturday, June 22nd, the Fremont Arts Council will take to the streets in celebration of the summer – and art – with its 25th Solstice Parade. This year, for the first time, the parade will be delayed (deliberately) and the floats, bands, stilt-walkers, belly dancers, bubble blowers, comedians, and pointed political propagandists (sharing their message without use of printed words,) will wait until afternoon – at 3p!
Time And Date
For some, the date may feel like a change – but it’s not. According to Leslie Zenz, Parade Director for the fifth year, “We are a date specific event, following the solstice.” The summer solstice takes place this year on Friday, June 21st, and the FAC and a (hopefully) huge mass of volunteers will honor the actual date by moving floats, props and costumes from the Solstice Parade workshop – at the Powerhouse, 3940 Fremont Ave N – to the Solstice Parade launch site on NW 36th St at 2nd Ave NW.
As to the 3p start time, this arts organization has shaken up Fremont, and the whole world, with many silly antics over the years. Some might suspect the FAC leadership would whimsically shift the parade to later – but they didn’t.
The later start does give participants a larger margin of error – rather than staying up all night attending to last minute details to be ready by Noon, participants can make minor adjustments in the morning before the first float rolls out. As Zenz observed, “I think that it will affect the energy, and give more time for ensembles to prepare.”
Another potential benefit maybe for the three beer gardens the FAC will be hosting – two along the route (at Makerhaus and in the new U-Park System lot at Roxy’s Diner,) and one at Gas Works Park. They actually will depend upon thirsty, waiting spectators buying the beverages, since sales will go towards funding the parade.
“I’m looking at it very positively,” Zenz acknowledged, of the time change, “for me this is just ideal.” Many might not be so generous about it. After all, the City of Seattle (in the form of the Special Events Committee,) and the schedule of the Seattle Rock-N-Roll Marathon, dictated the time. “City resources are just strapped for that weekend,” Zenz explained. Since September 2012 she and other FAC representatives have held talks with City representatives to try to find a way to accommodate the parade on the actual Solstice weekend. “It was very important to the [FAC] Board and members to stick to that date,” Zenz explained, so they agreed to a later start time.
Spread The Word
Without an advertising budget, Zenz hopes word-of-mouth will spread the news of the date and time to spectators. Her staff will let people know through the website, Facebook and by answering phone calls made to the parade studio. (“The most common contact people make with the Powerhouse,” she reported, “is asking where and when.”)
Those who stop by the Powerhouse between now and June 22nd, 2013, to attend a class, build a float or find out other ways to get involved, will meet Zenz staff. Most likely you will encounter Studio Coordinators Tara Jaiyeola and/or Wayne Richards. Zenz also relies on Communications Manager Sarah Steinberg and Development Director/Publications Manager Sonia Telesco to tend to details. This year the Gas Works Park Coordinator will be Tyson Lynn, a member of HONK! Fest West. Zenz also wanted mentioned Safety Director Shawn Murphy who will organize, train and lead the Parade Monitors who work to keep everyone safe.
Beyond the staff, those in the parade can also get the word out – and that number may be legion. As of early May (the parade building studio open house takes place on May 18th,) Zenz already had 18 ensembles signed up, although a few float bases remained available for adoption.
“We want as many people as we can get in the parade,” Zenz said, “we are always looking for new groups.” Every year the Solstice Parade attracts new participants, “and I always hear how much fun they have,” Zenz observed.
And while the FAC hadn’t officially selected a theme for the parade, Zenz noted that six ensembles, so far, have water themes – including Scylla & Cyclops, the Pacific Trash Gyre, Behemoth Rhapsody (with a squid and mer-people,) and the Jelly Fish. She’d also been searching for ways to transport a life-size whale model that appeared in the Procession Of The Species to Seattle from Thurston County.
Share The Fun
This year, the 25th Solstice Parade will also welcome some partners. Zenz is in discussions with The Stranger about judges, to select favorite ensembles using score placards, and distributing prizes!
Another partnership – possibly the biggest and definitely the loudest – will be with HONK! Fest West. This celebration of the brass street bands culture will take place June 21st – 23rd around Seattle, with 21 of the festivals participating bands actually in the Solstice Parade. Another four, including Sounders’ Sound Wave and the Seahawks’ Blue Thunder, will perform for waiting parade spectators at Gas Works Park.
“It’s going to be a lot of music this year,” Zenz observed of the Parade. Ensembles, more than ever, will be asked to incorporate a HONK! band into their art – or at least be prepared for musical accompaniment. She did point out that, unlike many bands in previous parades, the brass street bands are not amplified.
The Solstice Parade always includes plenty of celebration, fun and spectacle. The 25th Solstice Parade with the additions of nearly two dozen brass bands, a giant squid, afternoon sun, refugees from the marathon, a whole lotta jelly fish, and (possibly) score cards, promises to be the liveliest, largest and most exciting Fremont has seen in, well, 25 years!
To take part, visit the FAC website, or stop by the Powerhouse to take a class, hammer a nail onto one of the floats, or simply goggle at the activity. The Parade is a powerful performance piece, but it is even more fun when seen from inside!
- As The Band Goes Marching…To Gasworks!
- by Kirby Lindsay, May 6, 2011
- ‘What Are You Doing For The Solstice Parade?’
- by Kirby Lindsay, June 8, 2012
- FAC Solstice Parade: A Photo Display
- by Michelle Bates, May 28, 2012
- How To Build A Solstice Parade
- by Kirby Lindsay, May 16, 2011
©2013 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.