by Kirby Lindsay, posted 10 June 2013
It will be a Steam Punk Solstice at the Fremont Arts Council (FAC) Parade on June 22nd – starting this year at 3p. That is, one of the primary parade ensembles will have Steam Punk style in the costumes and accoutrement surrounding the center piece – the rolling Green Hat! This ensemble has the vital work of approaching the assembled audiences for donations that can keep the whole parade rolling!
For the 25th Solstice Parade, Gyan Davies volunteered to lead this ensemble’s artistic vision, with Christie Wolf working logistics. Both women bring ample experience building parade ensembles, and delivering on their commitments as FAC members at larger, and as former (Davies) and current (Wolf) Board Members. Most importantly, for all FAC Paraders and Parade lovers, they both bring a sincere awareness of the importance of the Green Hat.
Unlike other Solstice Parade ensembles, the Green Hat must deliver results – this ensemble collects cash and check donations from spectators for the 501(c)3 arts organization to pay expenses on the 2013 parade, and fund another in 2014. “I kind of liken it to buskers,” Davies explained about this ‘ask.’ Someone referred to it as the ‘panhandling’ part of the parade, and Davies immediately dismissed that comparison. “It really is to support the parade,” she said, and Wolf agreed that spectators rarely realize the money necessary to fuel a parade – particularly one as art-intensive as this one.
“It’s crucial,” Davies said, “[the Green Hat Ensemble] supplies between 30 – 50% of the parade funding.” Wolf, like Davies, has done several art projects for the FAC beyond the parade, and she observed, “we’ve got things here for people to create.” Art supplies and materials very often come from donors, or participants who write the expense off as the cost of playing, but, “in-kind donations don’t pay for staff, fencing, permits, porta-potties,…” Davies explained.
“We don’t get money from sources that other parades do,” Davies pointed out. One significant, but often-overlooked, difference between the Solstice Parade and most other parades (think Seafair Torchlight,) is the lack of logos or corporate sponsored floats. The FAC Solstice Parade is not brought to you by Brooks Sports or Red Hook. Also, “there are no entrance fees, ever!” Davies explained. Participants in the parade sign-up, but they play for free. “We want to be able to keep this a parade of free expression,” Davies observed, “open and creative.”
They need audience members to give to the Green Hat – cash or check – or make donations on-line. For 2013, Davies and Wolf intend to step up the profile of the Green Hat to give spectators more reason than ever to give generously!
‘The Wow Factor’
“This is the first time in my memory we’ve had two people doing it,” Davies observed, but the Green Hat, “is such a big, important part of the Parade!” In 2012, however, it nearly got left behind. The organizer discovered, a few weeks before the Parade set off, that he had been unwittingly volunteered to put it together. He did a great job assembling an ensemble, last minute, but Davies volunteered shortly after that to lead it in 2013 – and Wolf recently volunteered to help.
“I had the idea,” for the Steam Punk theme, Davies explained, at the Parade Retreat, in early March. “This year we’re going to be wearing sashes,” Wolf reported, “for a more uniform look.” Yet, the costumes – in part due to a partnership Davies arranged with the Seattle Steamrats – will also be visually stunning. “We are changing things up enough to be very distinctive,” Davies observed.
A slightly more sepia Green Hat – the actual upside down Green Hat built years ago for donations – will roll through the Parade, along with an old-fashioned radio box accompanied by Bob Honan barking the pitch. Uniformed volunteer collectors – friends of Wolf and Davies, Steam Rat members, and Union Bank employees – will reach out specially built Steam Punk armatures into the assembled throngs to collect money in smaller size green hats. Davies described them as, “part of the WOW factor!”
‘This Cool Solstice Parade’
“We move slower than the rest of the parade,” Wolf explained. Unlike every other ensemble/float/band/etc. that trundles through the Solstice Parade, the Green Hat ensemble has no assigned place. “We can start out two or three ensembles in,” Davies explained, “but by the end, we can end up at the end.”
This year, they may lead off the parade – which might seem odd, except that they would then follow the popular pre-Parade ‘warm-up’ by the Solstice Cyclists. As the Parade ambles along, the Green Hat ensemble will let other ensembles over take them as they, hopefully, get slowed down due to successful collecting from the awed crowds.
That is the dream, and spectators of the 25th Solstice Parade will dictate the reality. “When I first moved to Seattle,” Wolf recalled of 2004, “I heard about this cool Solstice Parade. When I saw the Parade, and was just blown away, I never thought I could be involved…”
Davies got involved in 2003, visiting the FAC workshop – The Powerhouse – while helping with a youth production at Stone Soup Theatre. “I walked in here not knowing anything at all,” she said. “I wasn’t in the parade that year,” she explained, although when she brought her sewing machine to the workshop she was instantly popular. “I contributed to at least four ensembles. I went to the parade and got to point out to family and friends, ‘I did that,’ and ‘I did that,’ and ‘I did that!’”
For many, participation isn’t always possible – but sharing is. Wolf and Davies plan to provide a Green Hat worth supporting, but it will be up to those watching to make it worthwhile.
- An Ask, For Fremont Month
- by Kirby Lindsay, May 13, 2013
- Time For Art
- by Kirby Lindsay, November 13, 2009
- ‘What Are You Doing For The Solstice Parade?’
- by Kirby Lindsay, June 8, 2012
©2013 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.