Solstice Parade Photos and Video
By Robert Bernstein
"Heroes" was the theme of the 2018 Summer Solstice Parade in honor of the true heroes who helped before, during and after the fire and mud flow disasters in Montecito.
I was back on my unicycle again in the parade. Once again I decided to go with my friend and extraordinary artist and engineer Pali-X-Mano in his spectacular grand finale. More on that later!
Because we were the grand finale, I was able to photograph most of the parade before we started. We were very lucky with mild weather! And the parade was perfectly paced!
The parade started promptly at noon with some of the real heroes of the Montecito disasters. Including Caltrans and rescue workers and John Palminteri who tirelessly covered the events as a reporter.
A giant bird and a giant dog were created during Puppetpalooza which I covered back in March in this article.
Solstice Artist in Residence Tessa Flanagan was the official first unit of the parade with her own giant puppet
Of course the Bucket Brigade volunteers were honored for their true Heroism!
Environmental lawyer, professor and stilt walker Marc McGinnes had a new book last year called Rise Up, celebrating the art of stilt walking. Once again he climbed up to spread love and also monitor the parade
And he was not alone on stilts
Next came the vast La Boheme dance troupe led by Teresa Kuskey Nowak. Their theme: "Together We Rise" symbolized by a Phoenix rising out of an Egyptian Pyramid!
Teresa posed with her many, many dancers before the parade:
The Phoenix and Pyramid were designed by Artist in Residence Mary Price who took a moment to pose with me before the parade:
La Boheme certainly energized the crowd with their beautiful costumes and skillful dancing! And did I mention, the many, many dancers?
And then came a second wave of La Boheme dancers in full body paint!
The Egyptian theme became more evident in the next wave!
Then came the Bucket Brigade in full force
Famed DJ Darla Bea spun tunes at the front of the Pyramid!
While beautiful, skillful pole dancers performed behind her
As the Phoenix head watched over it all
Some Heroes are small and often are overlooked. Three separate ensembles honored Bees and other Pollinators. Here was the first Pollinator ensemble
Including Ann Chevrefils who has been Artist in Residence many times in the past 25 years or more. For once she was just a helping hand instead of being in charge of an entire ensemble.
The next ensemble also had winged insects, but these were Art Bicycle creations!
Next came the Ninja Bees of art teacher and Solstice Artist in Residence Caroline Hambright.
Teen Camp participants featuring Macomber Karate martial artists fought off pesticides.
Also featuring young musicians from Brandon Elementary School in Goleta.
Next came a float honoring artist Bob Ross. I never heard of Bob Ross before, but apparently he had a TV program where he showed how to paint trees and landscapes. This was a creation of Youth Artist in
Residence Jensen Smith Morrison
Jensen's mother Laura Smith had been Artist in Residence for years, but this time she was happy just to help out and tow the float
Next came the Heroes of History on Dinosaurs. I have to say this was my favorite ensemble of the Solstice Parade!
Artists in Residence Claire Frandsen and John Conroy captured the essence of Solstice for me. Abraham Lincoln (Rob Robinson) on a Triceratops with a lasso?
Other famous figures from past and future on their own dinosaurs? Albert Einstein on a Velociraptor (John Conroy):
Ben Franklin on a Velociraptor
Sulu from Star Trek (Kenjo Ágústsson) on a Velociraptor
A Pteranodon in the air carrying away Jane Goodall
Joan Melendez (L) as Josephine Baker
Duncan the Dinosaur from the Santa Barbara Zoo joined in
Along with kitchy store-bought dinosaurs to add to the wackiness
And Claire Frandsen herself flying out in front as Amelia Earhart!
Claire's dinosaur ensemble was artistic, hilariously funny, interactive, innovative, unexpected, totally new and creative! In a word: Solstice! She learned many valuable skills during the Puppetpalooza workshop that ideally will be used by future Solstice artists as well.
Pegasus flew in at the last minute, another Solstice tradition! Eve Sanford joined in with her hooping talent!
A second wave of dancers follows
And then Mariano singing atop the float with his hand-crafted 13 foot wingspan eagle and the drummers
Solstice is a big, fun community event, but it also runs on money. Artist in Residence Lisa Thomas created this year's Pass the Hat Ensemble in the form of Gaia/Mother Earth and literally passed the hat herself!
Here the Mother Earth Dancers performed
Next up: Cris! Basimah's BellyDance Land joined up with host Vanessa Isaac's Hip Brazil Dancers
Here Cris! Basimah is out in front
Jatila van der Veen, Ph.D, by day is a UCSB Physics professor! Below (L) she poses before the dance. This is just one of many of her dance talents. I have had the pleasure of swing dancing with her, too!
Then Cris! Basimah's BellyDance Land rolled in for the next wave of joyful, skillful Solstice energy!
At this point I needed to get back with my own group: Pali's Grand Finale. But first I will share my photos of the other ensembles that I missed in the parade, but was able to photograph before and after!
Kimi Vandyk (R below) has been creating the Pink Party ensemble for several years. This year it was called Pink Party Super Hero Birthday Brigade. Her theme is peace, love and unity. How could there be conflict if everything is decorated in pink?
With her partner Kent Epperson they expanded their pink theme to include various human powered art vehicles, including the insect bicycles above. And this futuristic craft below, with costume artist Clau Orona posing along side.
And Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Ed France riding in the rear
Along with other Pink VIPs
Frida Kahlo was as ubiquitous in this parade as Santa Claus after Thanksgiving. She showed up in several ensembles. Former Solstice Executive Director Claudia Bratton, carpenter Michael Miller and hair and makeup artist Nise Baker recreated Frida’s courtyard with numerous heroes of the time.
In white below is Diane Stevenett who has been Artist in Residence in the past for some of the most memorable Solstice ensembles. Remember the Zebras in 2011?
Here is my photo of Diane's Zebras to refresh your memory!
Dance teacher Polly Paulina Carey came up to the Solstice Workshop every day from Ventura for weeks, preparing her Bees Ensemble.
Here she posed with me after the parade
Here she showed off her stinger
I have known Miguel Eckstein from UCSB Psychology for many years. He and his family joined in Paulina's Bee-utiful performance!
Here is Paulina and her crew during a pause during push-back to the Solstice Workshop
And then there was the Grand Finale of Pali-X Mano! Pali is one of the most brilliant engineers I know, and I have worked with some of the best! And of course he is renowned as an artist here in Santa Barbara and beyond. The Solstice Workshop opened late this year. Pali is experienced at planning his complex projects. But the late opening had him working literally down to the last minute this year. I hope this never happens again! Solstice needs the resources to start on time in order to create the best art possible!
My good friend Danielle Bushar joined me unicycling with Pali's ensemble. From the waist up I was a firefighter Hero, complete with Xenon flashing strobe on my helmet. From the waist down I was a Mondrian painting, exemplifying Pali's theme this year: Sun Dance of the Artist Hero
Big thanks to Ken Sherman for this video of me riding part of the 5.4 mile excursion I made during the Parade!
Big thanks to Pali for this photo that captured much of our multi-section ensemble:
Here are a few of my photos of the aerial dancers inside, choreographed by Ninette Paloma (holding the ring below).
In years past, Ninette did it all herself and she was happy to pass the opportunity on to a new generation of aerial artists!
Big thanks to Bob Debris for his photos of our ensemble
Once again Holocaust survivor Margaret Singer joined our ensemble, rolling along in front here with Pali
Nothing would have been possible without the tireless sewing assistance of Yoshiko who danced along in the parade
One of the intriguing members of our group was Jim Sun Bear who does a lot of the heavy carpentry that makes Solstice possible. Here he was playing a role from the animated film Ronal the Barbarian where he is impaled quite dramatically!
Afterwards we posed for a group photo
Here are some more acts in the Parade who were not part of any major ensemble, yet who are key to making it Solstice!
A sushi eating demonstration
The perennial return of the Hammer Heads
Solstice Costume Shop designer Phyllis Chiu as an owl
And pure Randomness
Here again http://www.swt.org/solstice/ are all of my Solstice photos! Including scenes before and after the parade! Some of those scenes are as memorable as what happens in the Parade! Thanks to everyone in our community who makes Solstice happen!