Smile … and Let the Games Begin! Summer Solstice Celebrations are Here!

Posted on Jun 20 by Leslie Dinaberg

Artist Pali-X-Mano poses with the large inflatable creation of his design from the 2013 Solstice parade. His inflatable for this year has a bowling theme. Photo by Wendy Jenson.

Artist Pali-X-Mano poses with the large inflatable creation of his design from the 2013 Solstice parade. His inflatable for this year has a bowling theme. Photo by Wendy Jenson.

One of our favorite celebrations of the year, the 40th Annual Summer Solstice Festival begins on Friday, June 20 at 4 p.m. at Alameda Park (1400 Santa Barbara St.) with music till 9 p.m. that night.

“It’s a weekend of outstanding entertainment for the community, and it’s free,” says Claudia Bratton, executive director. “The lineup covers a wide range of tastes, from Gypsy to pop, reggae, rock, hip hop, surf grunge, Macedonian folk and alternative music. There is something for everyone to enjoy and remember for a lifetime.”

Among the bands is local favorite Raw Silk, featuring lead singer Leslie Lembo, at 7 p.m.

The centerpiece of the celebrations, the Summer Solstice Parade, has certainly grown since it began in 1974, as a birthday celebration for artist Michael Gonzales. “From the beginning, Michael’s first parade permit said, ‘No words, no signs, no symbols.’ Since he was a mime, that wasn’t a problem,” says Bratton. “We continue to follow that tradition because as an artist it spurs one’s creativity to make something without the use of words, signs or symbols. It’s more powerful.”

Inflatables from past parades, the Veggie King and Sun King, are by Pali-X-Mano. Photo by Wendy Jenson.

Inflatables from past parades, the Veggie King and Sun King, are by Pali-X-Mano. Photo by Wendy Jenson.

All of the floats are people powered—no motors allowed.

In this year’s parade, favorite games come alive, among them Hungry Hippos, Pac Man, pinball, croquet,  and Mexican loteria. A single “die,” created by Tessa Flanigan, will also roll down State street, as will a creative Mouse Trap ensemble taking donations to support the Solstice Parade & Festival, which is a nonprofit.

The parade starts at noon on Saturday, June 21, the actual summer Solstice. It runs down State street from Cota  to Micheltorena street, where it turns east toward Alameda Park. Be sure to check out the parade floats, which  are parked along Micheltorena street for close-up inspection on Saturday until 4:30 pm.

The Saturday Festival also kicks off at noon with a drum circle is open to all and entertainment on the main stage until 8 p.m. Featured acts include Camille Umoff, the talented Santa Barbara High student who was featured in SEASONS Magazine and local favorites Tommy and the High Pilots, among others.

Solstice Festival, courtesy photo

Solstice Festival, courtesy photo

Thanks to generous funding from the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation, the Children’s Stage is a “Mini Bowl” providing young performers with a professional stage experience.

On Sunday, the Festival opens at noon with live entertainment on the main stage, DJ stage and children’s Mini Bowl, from 1:30 to 6 p.m. Taking the main stage at 4 p.m. is Ambrosia, the Southern California rock band with five Top Forty hit singles between 1975 and 1980, including “Holdin’ On To Yesterday.”

There’s also electronic dance music on the DJ Stage on Saturday and Sunday, and a special area for children with face painting, storytellers, juggling, bounce house, craft and food booths and free art projects on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

For a list of performers click here.

—Leslie Dinaberg

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