State Street Celebrates Summer Solstice in Style


State Street had another one of its renowned bi-annual occupancy tests Saturday, for the yearly Summer Solstice Festival and Parade in Santa Barbara, California. The festival celebrates the longest day of the year, and the first day of summer. The Summer Solstice Celebration draws crowds upwards of 100,000 to the coastal community.

Celebrators travel from all over the world to exhilarate their senses through music, art, and dance. Of course, there is also the colorful parade, which begins at high noon and directs 1,000 colorfully dressed — often scantly clad – merrymaking participants up State Street to Alameda Park. An open invitation is extended to anyone wanting to participate in an hour-long post parade drum circle in the center of the park.

The Summer Solstice Celebration began in 1974, as a birthday celebration for a Michael Gonzales, a popular artist and mime of the time. Over the years it has evolved into the lavish, over-the-top pagan inspired ritual that it is today. The creativity and acquiescence become contagious to the eclectic group, this open energy permeated the atmosphere.

The mass droves of tourist bring a boost in business within the downtown area. Cabs and street vendors hustle through every moment to supply products and services. Pedicab business “about triples,” according to Leonard Swanson, a part time pedicab operator working in Santa Barbara. Influenced by Spanish tradition, the cascar´on (confetti filled eggshell,) becomes a hot comity during the weekend, resulting in pop-up sidewalk shops.

Solstice ended on Sunday in the same place that it started on Friday, with musical and dancing acts performing at the main stage in Alameda Park. The setting sun marks the end to each day’s activities, as well as the celebration finale.

Written story and reporting by Chad J. Hill