by Scott London
Each year at the end of June, Santa Barbara officially kicks off summer with a three-day Solstice Celebration. The highlight of the event is a fabulous parade known for its whimsical floats, colorfully-costumed stiltwalkers, goofy performance artists, Brazilian drummers, and giggling kids donning masks, costumes, and painted faces—to say nothing of the amazing samba dancers wearing feathers and sequins and not much else. The annual event got its start in 1974 and now attracts some 100,000 spectators and over 1,000 participants from around the world. Here are some of my photos from this year’s festivities.
Many participants in the parade took inspiration from the 2012 theme “Fantasy” — like this troupe of wacky performance artists, headed up by Darla Bea Smith (second from right) calling themselves “Better Gnomes in Gardens.”
Covered in bright blue body-paint, Hannah Smith was part of the Epic Hindu Bhakti Shakti Ensemble led by Solstice artist-in-residence Perry Hoffman.
Tatyana Aksenova-Alliano was one of many amazing dancers in the Hip Brazil dance troupe. Their fuchsia feathered headpieces and sexy sequined outfits conjured up images of the Rio Carneval.
Capoeira master Prof Chin led a group of colorfully-painted women warriors.
Panzumo, a high-energy drum and dance ensemble, has long been a favorite part of the Solstice Parade. Here Asia Warren, Lisa Beck and Arielle Christner dance their way up State Street.
All you need to participate is some face-paint and a pair of angel wings.
Helene Schneider, Santa Barbara’s popular mayor, took part in the parade wearing a fabulous hat.
Panzumo drummer Derrick Curtis.
Hungarian-born artist Pali-X-Mano is known for his eye-popping inflatable sculptures. This year’s creation was a giant 30-foot sea urchin with circus dancers inside. The float barely fit under the tree canopy of State Street.
Drummers Luke Kende and Colin Clark bring up the rear as the parade draws to an end at Alameda Park.
For more of my photos from the Solstice festivities, go to:
- The complete set of photos from Solstice 2012
- Photos from the 2011 Solstice Parade
- Photos from the 2010 Solstice Parade
- Photos from the 2009 Solstice Parade
- Slideshow of prior Solstice Celebrations 2005-2012 on Flickr