Friday, May 27 , 2016, 5:18 am | Fair 56º

Solstice Welcomes Summer with Wacky Costumes, Parade Floats, Fun and Games

Tens of thousands of spectators, participants crowd State Street and Alameda Park for the 40th annual Summer Solstice Celebration, going on through Sunday

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

Cheers, laughter and smiles were commonplace Saturday on State Street as thousands of people enjoyed the creative — often outrageous — costumes and parade floats that helped kick off this year’s Summer Solstice Celebration.

Those walking in and even those watching the Summer Solstice Parade embraced the 40th annual celebration’s “Games” themes, rolling up State Street from Cota Street starting just after noon.

More than 1,000 arts enthusiasts participated in the parade, wearing whimsical masks and costumes to stroll, dance or ride aboard people-powered floats to spirited applause and fanfare.

Santa Barbara County’s largest three-day arts event was expected to gather more than 100,000 people in Santa Barbara this weekend, and Saturday’s showing made reaching the number seem entirely plausible.

Many participants had been working on their parade floats since last month in the festival’s Community Arts Workshop, while others procrastinated a bit more.

Locals used the parade as an excuse to wear the most vibrant colors in their wardrobes, and some fans still reveling from Argentina’s morning victory in the 2014 FIFA World Cup joined in, too.

A Ms. Pacman float blared loud tunes, and beating drums played key roles in most choreographed dances.

Parade goers of all ages followed the blur of shimmering color up to Micheltorena Street, where the procession turned right and headed to Alameda Park to continue the weekend-long festivities.

Diehard solstice lovers had already begun celebrating Friday, which kicked off live music entertainment in the afternoon.

Savory food and funky retail vendors awaited at Alameda Park on Saturday. The festival opened at noon and bustled until its closing around 8 p.m.

The festival will open at noon Sunday and conclude at 6 p.m., featuring a closing act on the main stage performance by Ambrosia, a Southern California rock band with five Top 40 hit singles between 1975 and 1980, including “Biggest Part of Me,” “Holdin’ On to Yesterday” and “You’re the Only Woman.” The group will play at 4 p.m.

Click here for a complete schedule of Summer Solstice events.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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