The parade's legendary, a Seattle rite of summer, and not just because of the naked cyclists who kick it off—although they are pretty damn awesome. If you've never seen the Solstice Parade and can't decide whether it's worth the trek to Fremont, just know it's like no parade you've ever seen, in large part because there are no words. Amazing what a rule like "no words" does. There are no corporate types marching on either side of vinyl signs, no politicians waving at you from cars covered in campaign slogans, no "branding" opportunities at all. Everything is handmade. Everything is vivid and ingeniously expressive and somehow ancient-feeling; it's a trip. Oh yeah and there's music. Lots of music. Especially this year, because HONK! Fest West is joining in the festivities, with 27 bands from across the U.S.—playing klezmer, samba, Balkan, punk rock, jazz...
Couple things you need to know:
• The parade starts at 3 pm this year, with the naked cyclists at 2:45 pm. Pass it on. For the last 24 years, the parade has started at noon, so there will probably be some confusion, come noontime, over why it's not starting.
• There's an official outdoor after party this year at Gas Works Park, with HONK! Fest West marching bands on four stages, food, and a beer garden. That goes from 4-9 pm.
• The Stranger is covering the parade this year for the first time (?!), with a photo spread in our next issue. Staff photographer Kelly O and I will be there all day, taking fashion photos of the naked cyclists during the bodypainting party (only the cyclists who want to be photographed, obviously) and documentary photos of the parade ensembles (seriously, the stuff they come up with is amazing; the Pride Parade has nothing on the Solstice Parade). We'll also be at the announcers' booth with co-judges Barbara Luecke and Ricky Gene Powell, commenting on the sights as they pass and handing out prizes. We have so many prizes.
• If you want to be part of the parade, organizers want you to know they want participants. If you want to be given a role in one of the parade ensembles, show up early at the Powerhouse Parade Arts Studio (3940 Fremont Avenue N)—that's where parade artists have been working for weeks getting ready. If you want to participate in the naked cycling, show up at the bodypainting party a few hours before the parade starts (that address is right over here).
• For more info about the parade, go here. A couple nights ago I got to meet Barbara Luecke, who co-founded the parade 25 years ago, and she told me, "I think this is going to be one of the biggest parades we've ever had."
• The forecast says tomorrow will be 76 degrees and sunny.