By Robert Bernstein
A few days ago I posted my videos of Solstice 2022 and warned that photos would take longer to edit! Here they are!
Artistic Director Riccardo Morrison and Executive Director Robin Elander kindly posed for this photo moments before the parade kicked off.
The many well-trained and well-costumed dancers of La Boheme led off the parade in style, thanks to the training and choreography of Teresa Kuskey NowakDJ Darla Bea invited her friend Kaycee up from Ventura to hula skate with the La Boheme ensemble! You can just barely see Darla Bea on the float to the right of Kaycee’s head.For many years, local environmental activist and UCSB professor Marc McGinnis strode Solstice in tall stilts. He claims he is still on stilts here or else he would be very short!
Behind Marc is a tribute float for one of the greatest Solstice artists of all time: Ann Chevrefils. She sadly passed recently after a long battle with cancer. Thanks to Carlos Cuellar for creating this tribute.Artist in Residence Geoffrey Barber was back with a new mathematical creation Vesica Piscis which literally means “bladder of the fish”. Geoffrey called it the sacred symbol of the womb of the universe.The theme this year was “Shine” and I was mystified at first how Reginald the Decorator Crab fit the theme. Until it was explained that Reginald the Decorator Crab has adorned his shell with “shiny treasures”. Reginald was joined by other sea creatures.
Here John Conroy posed with Reginald as he helped pull Reginald up Santa Barbara Street. John’s outfit is pure Solstice! Reginald was a combined effort of at least two groups from Solstices past. One group is John and his wife Claire Frandsen who made the memorably amazing Heroes on Dinosaurs ensemble in 2018. Claire pushed their young son in the parade.
The other group was led by Jensen Smith-Morrison, working with mother Laura Smith who has also been Artist in Residence in the past.There were many monarch butterflies in Solstice this year. But this one stood out literally for obvious reasons!Speaking of winged wonders, Dusty Williams has been creating winged creatures on wheels one by one for many years. It was a delight to see them all together in one place at Solstice this year! Here was just one of many in his ensemble that I got to photograph before having to run to take my place in the parade!“Moon in a Star Garden” was created by Katreece Montgomery (R), Irene Ramirez (to her left) and Courtney Casteels Richardson (to her left) and many other helpful volunteers.The Hammerheads have been coming back to Solstice for decades, always with new hammer heads to fit the current theme. This year, of course, they were shiny! Some years they would gently bonk me as I rode by on my unicycle!Elephants on Parade was a creation of former Solstice Executive Director Claudia Bratton (with orange lei on the float), Mary Price and Steven Sharpe (playing beloved elephant-headed god Ganesha on the front of the float).World Dance for Humanity performed to promote justice and peace around the world, featuring Ukraine as its theme this year. Their ensemble was led off by Ukrainian Gregory Lyutko and organized and choreographed by Janet Reineck. But I am offering this photo starring my dear friend Vandana Khare who is also an avid Sierra Club hiker.I have way too many photos to share on this page, so please look at the rest of my parade photos here!
Some of my best photos were taken before the parade started, as performers gathered in the staging area near Ortega and Garden Streets. Here Kent Epperson bicycled by with part of the Pink Party ensemble. It was combined with Bike DeLights which has fun lit rides that can be found on their Facebook page. Kent’s partner and Pink Party creator Kimi Vandyk sadly was not feeling well and had to miss the festivities.My good friend Pali famously creates the Grand Finale ensemble each year with a giant inflatable art piece with aerial dancers inside of it. But we rarely get a clear view of these amazing young performers. Here their teacher Ninette Paloma posed with them before the parade. You may remember when Ninette performed herself in the inflatable art for many years.
Here you can see many more of my pre-parade photos!
After the parade, people may be tired, but they gain a second life in the park! A chance for people to inspect the floats up close and a chance to meet the performers. In this case, I was delightfully surprised to encounter Krystal Zagala Love and her husband Paul Zagala Freedom! I had not even seen them in the parade because they were in a secret spot behind our Grand Finale!Here are more of my fun photos after the parade.
Finally, I am grateful for everyone who is kind enough to share their photos of me. Here is a superb photo of me by Fritz Olenberger, with the Ducky Derby ensemble behind me.And here are other photos of me kindly shared with me. Please do let me know if you have or see others! I can be reached at webrobert (at) swt.org