Sustainable Solstice Festival is a celebration of the arts, lasting community and positive futures. Sustainable Solstice is about co-creating a celebration that inspires us all to live well and joyfully, while living more lightly on our planet earth.
Popular nude bicyclists once again lead off annual Solstice Parade
Gerardo Gonzales' heart started to race just before noon Saturday.
He stood by his roommate on North 36th Street in Fremont with his bicycle and the support of friends who coated him with the body paint that would be his only covering. He isn't a typical "naked guy," but something intrigued the 26-year-old Seattle man about the naked cyclists -- traditionally, one of the most popular groups in the Fremont Solstice Parade. "There were about four or five guys and a few girls standing around in our group. One guy said, 'OK,' and we all 'dropped trou,'" Gonzales said. "It was pretty scary at first, but you make friends really quickly when you're out there naked."
Dozens like Gonzales led the 19th annual parade, part of the Solstice Saturday celebration organized by groups including the Fremont Arts Council. Thousands of people who packed North 36th Street cheered the riders, who were painted up as bumblebees, cowboys, flags -- even one as Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
"This is just fun," said Ballard resident Cindy Boyer, who sat with her 6- and 8-year-old boys along the parade route. "This is the first year (the boys) realized they're naked, but I don't think it's a big deal. They like the artistic side of it."
Seattle police reported no arrests and most businesses along the parade route welcomed the crowds.
"We've had a line out the door for the past two hours," Jeremy Charbonnban, an employee at Cafe Ladro, said at about noon. "Normally, we're only a quarter as busy as we are today. I think this makes a lot of people aware of what businesses are in the area."
Lack of parking was the only consistent complaint among parade goers. Some paid $20 to homeowners a few blocks from the route, while most walked a mile or more through Fremont neighborhoods full of garage sales and entrepreneurial kids with lemonade stands. Last year, Kate Walsh tried to watch the parade, but gave up when the closet parking spot she found was at Woodland Park Zoo. She planned ahead this year and was dropped off to drink mimosas at a Fremont apartment two hours before the parade's noon start.
As Walsh stood along the parade route praising the drop-off method, friend Raymond Loyola saw a fellow Boeing engineer ride by in the buff. "That's going to get around the office e-mail pretty fast," he joked, showing a digital side-view photo of his polka-dot-painted friend. The naked cyclists were a crowd favorite, but only a fraction of the parade participants. A marching band followed men with leather vests and whips. Middle-aged women sang about their breasts, a colorful bubble man drew flocks of kids and one entry included a hard rock band. The parade ended with the Sustainable Solstice Festival at Gas Works Park and the Solstice Pageant.
Gene Rose, 54, of Bremerton, is a regular attendee and was among the thousands who vied for prime seating on Gas Works Park Hill overlooking the pageant."Happy, freedom, fun," he said of the event. "It's just beautiful."Cindy Yarbrough, a lifelong Seattle-area resident, went for the first time Saturday. "I've heard it's an experience you have to have once in your life," she said.
The pageant, described as "Sun Arc -- How humans learned to walk more lightly on the Earth," featured elaborate and colorful costumes. There were performers dresses as trees, stars and 24-foot tall puppets. Spear-wielding humans dressed in E.T.-like costumes chased animals and cardboard cars entered noisily on the scene. The loosely choreographed dance featured dozens of volunteers who performed in front of the gasworks structure and weaved in and out of the audience. The musical score came from the improvised sounds of guitars, bongos, didgeridoos -- an Australian wind instrument -- and even mallets on a bucket.
Earlier, at the parade, Jason Curry, a cross-dressing 36-year-old, captured the popular image of the annual Fremont event. "I heard it was a festival with a bunch of freaks and naked people, so I'm ready," he said, standing near North 36th Street. He heard of the parade as an eight-year Seattle resident, but hadn't gone before moving to Fremont this year. Saturday afternoon, he danced to a drum beat in multi-colored, crushed velvet pants and a long blond wig, next to friends who didn't take a second glance. "It's a great place to be yourself," he said, "and have a lot of fun."