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Sunday, March 24 , 2019, 1:01 am | Fair 51º


Heroes Take a Star Turn at 44th Annual Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration

Estimated 75,000 spectators crowd State Street for irreverant parade, which includes serious tribute to those who answered call during and after twin disasters


The June gloom hanging over downtown Santa Barbara on Saturday was no damper for tens of thousands of revelers gathered for the 44th annual Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration Parade.

Santa Barbara police estimated that 75,000 spectators turned out for the parade, part of the three-day celebration that continues in Alameda Park through Sunday evening.

The Solstice committee selected “Heroes” as the theme to honor those who were so instrumental during and after last winter’s devastating twin disasters, the Thomas Fire and the Montecito flash flooding and debris flows.

Kelly Patterson, a six-year member of the all-volunteer Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue team, was among those who joined the parade festivities.

“I don’t see it as a celebration of heroes,” she told Noozhawk before her march up State Street from Cota Street. “I see it as a celebration of our community, and we had a rough year. To be part of the community, it’s more about that then being a hero because I did my job.”

The parade traveling up State to Micheltorena Street, then over to Alameda Park, attracts people of all ages.

Participants included large dance groups showcasing their talents, musicians, stilt-walkers and many partygoers sporting colorful costumes.

This year is Westside Dance’s first time participating in the parade, according to Jennifer Phillips, owner of the Santa Barbara dance studio.

The group of about 18 young performers made their superhero costumes themselves, and showed off their moves to Alicia Keys’ hit “Girl on Fire” and Demi Lovato’s “Confident” on the street in front of the cheering crowd.

“All of our music is about great female empowerment and good fun,” Phillips said. “It’s fun to be part of the community and makes us feel happy to be here.”

Santa Barbara’s Summer Solstice goes back to 1974, as a birthday celebration for local artist and mime Michael Gonzales, according to event organizers.

The nonprofit Summer Solstice Celebration is responsible for carrying on Gonzales’ multicultural performing arts gathering.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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