Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 8:22 pm | Fair 52º


Summer Solstice Parade Has a Flair for Fun in the Sun

More than 100,000 revelers are expected to line route of popular parade Saturday.

Debbie Patterson stakes out her family’s Solstice Parade vantage point Friday morning outside Trinity Episcopal Church, on the corner of State and Micheltorena streets. Saturday’s parade route is already lined with all manner of chairs, blankets, tape and assorted personal belongings. (William M. Macfadyen photo / Noozhawk)

The midday sun isn’t just for mad dogs and Englishmen any longer. Thanks to Santa Barbara’s annual Summer Solstice Celebration, Santa Barbarans are just as likely to run amok in the streets in the heat at the height of summer.

Zac Paladino and Matt Jahns work on their project, which will feature a sun, moon and earth that they’ll roll up the street while dressed as mustachioed businessmen. The theme of their exhibit: global takeover. (Rob Kuznia photo / Noozhawk)

So, on Saturday, if you’re one of those people who’ve been feeling that itch to don that chicken suit — or whatever you’ve got stashed away in the hall closet — and bop up and down downtown Santa Barbara in the blazing heat, you’l be joined by several hundred like-minded folks: dancers, floats, drummers and ordinary people wearing extraordinary costumes. This year’s theme is “Solar Flair,” and it starts at noon Saturday at Cota and State streets.

Alternatively, you could be one of more than 100,000 spectators watching those crazy, funny, whimsical and artistic parade participants, hopefully as you hold an icy drink in your hand. That’s an especially important point come Saturday as noontime temperatures are expected to be in the low 90s.

The fun in the sun will continue in Alameda Park, as musical acts keep the beat going and Santa Barbara’s finest artists and artisans display their wares until 8 p.m.

Saturday morning, the 600 block of Garden Street will be closed for the float staging area. Beginning at 6:30 a.m., State Street will be closed to traffic between Cota and Haley streets, Cota will be closed between Anacapa and Chapala streets, and Fig Avenue will be closed between Cota and Haley for parade formation. At 10 a.m., State will be closed between Haley and Micheltorena streets. The parade is estimated to end between 2 and 3 p.m.

To kick things off, a pre-parade party will be taking place at 5 p.m. Friday, also at Alameda Park, with a full roster of musical and dance acts.

The Summer Solstice Parade had its beginnings in 1974 as a birthday celebration for popular local mime and artist Michael Gonzales. Since then it has evolved into an extravaganza of creativity and culture, the likes of which are found in few other places in the world. But despite the growth of the festivities, parade organizers have kept it real by not allowing commercial elements to filter into the parade. You won’t see live animals either (the Big Dogs have already had their day), motorized vehicles (except wheelchairs), or nudity.

Click here for more information, maps, schedules and photos of festivities past. And don’t forget the sunscreen.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at [email protected]

Alameda Park was rocking with expectant, pre-parade entertainment Friday. (Charles Croninger photo)

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