Procession will go up Santa Barbara Street; festival will take place at park
For the first time since 2019, the Summer Solstice celebration returns in-person to Santa Barbara this weekend with a parade and festival.
Known for its creative entries, the colorful parade will begin at noon Saturday at the corner of Ortega and Santa Barbara streets and go up Santa Barbara Street to the festival’s site, Alameda Park.
The celebration in the park, located at 1400 Santa Barbara St., is taking place from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday and noon to 9 p.m. Saturday.
After the parade, the floats will remain on display on Sola Street until 4 p.m.
In 2020 and 2021, the Solstice celebration was a virtual experience because of COVID-19, and organizers are glad to make the 48th annual event an in-person celebration.
“It’s really wonderful to bring the community back together,” Robin Elander, the interim program director for Solstice, told the News-Press. “The creativity in the workshop where the community comes together to build the parade is really interesting and exciting so it’s really good,”
The workshop gives the public the opportunity to work side by side with Solstice arts mentors.
This year, the Junior Artist Program with honorariums for selected participants was spearheaded by former Executive Director Claudia Bratton.
“The parade is pretty special this year,” Ms. Elander said. “There is so much extra creativity that has been pent up for two years that is coming out of the woodwork. We are excited to bring people together. There are local artists mentoring junior artists with exhibits coming out of the mentorship, including a crab with movable limbs and an elephant ensemble.
“This is one of the area’s largest parades and festivals, which originated from a birthday celebration for its organizer, Micheal Gonzales,” Ms. Elander said. “The floats are all handmade pieces. Many are made from recycled or upcycled materials, and some are even available for purchase after the parade.”
At Alameda Park, the free festival will feature live music, food, vendors, and a beer and wine garden, where people can meet up with their friends to kick off the summer.
The festival is open to all ages, but you must be 21 or older to go into the beer and wine garden.
Ms. Elander said Summer Solstice organizers are still looking for volunteers. “The festival is powered by community volunteers who assist with a range of activities including: pushers and pullers (people who direct floats). We also have a grand finale float that requires about 30 volunteers. Paid and volunteer positions are available.
“There is also a Pass the Hat float, for donations to bring back the festival even stronger next year. In the past it has been a three-day celebration,” she said.
For a lineup of performances and other information, see www.solsticeparade.com.