Santa Barbara’s Summer Solstice made a colorful return Saturday by welcoming locals to the Arlington Theatre to enjoy a showing of a film commemorating the celebration.
While the Summer Solstice is typically marked by an iconic parade down State Street, this year, organizers decided to celebrate a little differently due to the pandemic.
Members of the public were invited to dress up and come to the Arlington Theatre for a live showing of a film created by TV Santa Barbara that compiled footage of performances and community submissions.
Many locals arrived at the Arlington Theatre on Saturday dressed in a variety of colorful costumes. Local dance group, La Boheme, donned colorful corsets, wigs and skirts for the celebration, while others arrived wearing weathered wings or multi-colored cloaks.
For Stacie Bouffard, the board president of Solstice, having people in person to celebrate once again felt like old times.
“We’re just super excited about all the energy this year that we’ve been able to generate, and the support of our community has been phenomenal,” Ms. Bouffard told the News-Press. “We’re very, very excited to be here in person.”
“It feels like Solstice,” she added.
This is the second year COVID-19 has cancelled the in-person Summer Solstice parade that has historically drawn more than 100,000 people to State Street. But despite the cancellation, guests could feel the celebratory spirit in the air as lovers of Solstice gathered together once again.
Shannon Stark, a member of the La Boheme dance group, told the News-Press that she was very happy that people could be back to celebrating Solstice in person once again. For her, dancing at Solstice is one of the highlights of performing.
“This is life for me,” Ms. Stark said. “I love dancing with La Boheme, and so (Solstice) is like our prime day of the year. We start with the Solstice, and then we dance throughout the year. It’s everything to us.”
La Boheme was the first dance troupe showcased in the hour-long Solstice film, which featured a number of other dance groups, artistic submissions from local residents and a few video clips from past parades. The film was created by TV Santa Barbara, who shot many of the film scenes over the past two months.
Erik Davis, the executive director of TV Santa Barbara, told the News-Press that the goal of the project was to capture the essence of the people and spirit of Solstice. He and his crew filmed all across Santa Barbara to capture video for this year’s celebration.
“It was really a labor of love (and) a lot of fun working with the Summer Solstice,” Mr. Davis told the News-Press. “Our crew had a lot of fun, and we’re really happy with the movie.”
Local residents and mother-daughter duo Jane Carey and Jane Fehrenbacher attended Saturday’s celebration at the Arlington Theatre, embracing the energy and fun of being back at Solstice.
“It feels good (to be back),” Ms. Fehrenbacher told the News-Press. “There’s a happy and open hearted feeling as people resume normal lives.”
“It’s great to be around people and positive energy,” Ms. Carey added.
While Solstice organizers are hopeful that an in-person parade will be possible next summer, they expect that some of the elements implemented during the pandemic will remain.
“(COVID) was a real adjustment last year for sure, but it actually created a larger web,” Ms. Bouffard said. “I didn’t know how to explain it, but I think we’ve touched more of the community in a way that we didn’t do. (People) decorated their homes and businesses, and I think this is going to be a tradition that will actually stay when (Solstice) comes around next year.”