An estimated 100,000 spectators crowded the sidewalks along State Street on Saturday to take in the kaleidoscopic explosion of Santa Barbara’s annual Summer Solstice Celebration.
This year’s parade theme was “Creatures” so — naturally — floats, costumes and masks celebrated the wild things with horns, hooves, feathers and wings.
Barnyard animals, underwater organisms and even a Chinese-style dragon made the trek up State Street to Alameda Park but some of the most stunning costumes belonged to the feather-adorned dancers.
Lorna Kohler and her daughter, Zoe Carlson, have participated in the parade for four and five years, respectively, as part of the Brazilian Cultural Arts Center of Santa Barbara.
“I still have gold paint on my fingernails from helping paint the float, and my daughter’s room is a costume shop right now,” Kohler said.
Their group went by the name “Capoeira Barizado” and featured drummers accompanying a plethora of dancers with Capoeira masters.
“Every year we bring in people from around the world,” Carlson said.
Kohler said most of them are of Brazillian descent, and stay in a house that was rented for them just for Solstice week.
The Santa Barbara Solstice Celebration attracts people from great distances but it’s not lost on locals either.
Santa Barbara native Lola Rosales couldn’t even recall how many Solstice Parades she’s attended over the years, but she made sure to stake a claim to prime parade-viewing real estate in a shady area near Paseo Nuevo.
“I used to tell my daughter, whose birthday is the 21st, that I arranged a parade for her every year,” Rosales said.
Even though her daughter is grown now and has known the truth about “her parade,” they still made a point to watch the parade together this year.
Claudia Bratton, executive director of the Solstice Celebration, said it’s incredibly rewarding to make “the greatest event of the year” in Santa Barbara free to the public.
“The parade is almost entirely funded by private donations and the participant fees,” she said.