Fremont celebrates summer despite chilly weather
While Mother Nature didn't give us sun Saturday, she also didn't rain on the Solstice Parade in Fremont.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Summer came in a wave of hula skirts and hula hoops, marching bands and men on stilts, and a naked Elvis, in his fat years.
There were other naked bicycle riders, too, 100 of them, maybe more — covered in body paints to look like soccer jerseys or characters from "Avatar."
And the much-anticipated answer is — no, their body paint didn't smear. Because while Mother Nature didn't give us sun Saturday, she also didn't rain on this Solstice Parade in Fremont.
The 22nd annual parade unofficially marked the start of summer, at least for the Fremont faithful. There were beer gardens and live rock bands. The air was thick with the smell of grilled hot dogs and burgers.
Tens of thousands showed up on this charcoal-sky day. Crowds gathered around the statue of Lenin and stretched all the way to Gas Works Park, where the parade ended and another party started, with more live music and another beer garden.
The large crowd was a convergence of several events: The famous parade, organized by the Fremont Arts Council; the Fremont Fair, with hundreds of food, arts-and-crafts vendors and live music, organized by the Fremont Chamber of Commerce; and the Art Car Blowout, the celebration of wildly decorated cars.
Joining those crowds, hundreds of soccer fans spilled out onto the streets after watching the World Cup at the soccer bar The George & Dragon Pub and other sports bars nearby.
Some organizers had feared crowds would be sparse, given the threat of a downpour.
But by 9 a.m., hundreds had stationed their folding chairs along North 36th Street, the parade route. The parade started about noon.
More floats and folks participated in this year's parade than last year's, organizers say, with 55 groups building floats and props. Some groups had up to 100 dancers and musicians.
There was much to see:
A Yellow Submarine float followed by Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, leading the crowd in a singalong of "All You Need is Love."
The "art car" show, with dozens of Volkswagen Bugs and station wagons painted in rainbow colors with shoes and fake eyeballs attached. Nearby, a local band playing an Iron Maiden song on stage.
And still more people, fighting through the sea of bodies to get to the troll statue, where they heard a local troupe was performing scenes from "Romeo and Juliet" and "Macbeth."
"I love the energy, the crowd," said Brian Kooser, in a hula skirt, standing by his volcano float. This is his 12th year participating in the parade.
Nearby, David Ruggiero, one of the naked riders, was covered in gold body paint and black dots — a leopard, unless it rains, he said; then he's a Monet Impressionist painting.
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