Celebrating Unity at the Solstice Parade
By Robert Bernstein
OK! I have edited my Solstice Parade photos! Here you can see them all! Including scenes before and after the parade! The theme this year: Celebrating Unity!
I was back on my unicycle again after (mostly) recovering from a unicycle accident in 2014 in San Francisco that injured my right shoulder. Once again I decided to go with my friend and extraordinary artist and engineer Pali-X-Mano in his spectacular grand finale. His creation: A three story tall heart with flames of passion on top!
Once again Pali had two aerial dancers performing at the same time with a third one in rotation, including Rachna Hailey! Beautiful!
Here Pali posed before the parade with me and fellow unicyclist and friend Danielle Bushar:
Because we were the grand finale, I was able to photograph most of the parade before we started. We were also very lucky with mild weather!
Some of the highlights I photographed:
Laura Smith once again gathered children to be part of her creation: Unicorns and Manatees which together are Uni-tees! And of course rainbows and unicorns go together, too! Here they posed before the parade:
Costume designer Phyllis Chiu patiently taught me how to sew some pieces for their Warm Fuzzies ensemble. She posed here with some of their crew before starting the parade, handing out little Warm Fuzzies to the crowd:
The Community Arts Workshop (site of the Solstice Workshop) is also called CAW, so it was appropriate that they had a flock of CAW-ing crows to lead off the parade:
Ann Chevrefils has created some of the most memorable Solstice ensembles going back to the 1980s. She even included me as a unicyclist in her San Luis Obispo Mardi Gras "Krewe Ton" in 1995. One of my favorites was her flock of pterodactyls. This time she had a flock of very colorful birds following and contrasting with the CAW crows.
Connie Sullivan decided to mix in with Ann's birds by re-creating herself as Felix the cat:
Solstice would not be complete without gorgeous Brazilian dancers:
Accompanied by musicians:
Some of the most interesting parts of Solstice are the small acts that don't even involve floats:
Art teacher Caroline Hambright created an ensemble of the Solar System with help from some of her students:
Once again Kimi Vandyk gathered people for her Pink Party theme of peace, love and unity. How could there be conflict if everything is decorated in pink?
The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is revered as the Creator of All That Is by Pastafarians everywhere. His Noodliness made a personal appearance:
This float mystified most viewers:
You may recognize that figure on top as Eraserhead. He is carrying an eraser and standing on a giant eraser. The Unity theme? Erasing all differences!
La Boheme Dance, directed by Teresa Kuskey Nowak, returned this year with an ensemble totaling over 100 costumed dancers, actors, acrobats and other performers. Karen Lehman, center, is one of the regular dancers seducing the crowd.
Closely followed by belly dancer/choreographer Cris! Basimah and her seductive dancers, including Erinn Bourget and Kristi Bullock Ferrel:
With DJ Darla Bea spinning tunes on a float complete with a running fountain! Thanks to Nicky LaFleur and crew for that creation!
Environmental lawyer, professor and stilt walker Marc McGinnes has a new book called Rise Up celebrating the art of stilt walking. Once again he climbed up to perform with family and friends:
Lisa Thomas gathered City Council Member Cathy Murillo and friends for the Pass the Hat ensemble to collect donations for next year's Solstice:
This ensemble also mystified many people. I was told this is a Mexican tradition to dress in Middle Eastern outfits. Supposedly to mock the white people bringing their Abrahamic religions to the Americas:
Solstice Workshop and Parade coordinator Riccardo Morrison hops a ride on the back of a giant tricycle at one comical moment in the parade. After months of planning and hard work he can relax for a moment:
At that moment I scrambled to join Pali, my wife Merlie and my unicycling companion Danielle to begin one hour and forty five minutes of cavorting up the parade route for the Grand Finale! With Holocaust survivor Margaret Singer on a wheeled throne in the lead!
I am grateful to photographers Ronald Williams, Owen Duncan, John Mahoney, William Noack and Rob Hoffman (and a few set up by me!) for letting me share these photos of our ensemble!
Special thanks for this one and others by Ron Williams: