Night & Day
Free Spirits Parade Through Fremont
Summer Solstice Parade Fremont's's fifth annual event, ushering in both summer and the 22nd annual Fremont Fair, at noon on Saturday (with enough excitement to whoosh off the clouds). ---------------------------------
DATELINE: FREMONT, sometime between 20,000 B.C., 1968 and 1993 -
They call that a parade?
Where were the politicians?
The obnoxious cannon blasts?
The ubiquitous Shriners?
Even the mistress of ceremonies, a storyteller from Portland named Harriet Mason, was sometimes at a loss to explain what to call the creatures and events dancing, singing and thumping drums out in front of her.
"Oh, and here comes some sort of Grecian column," said Mason halfway through Saturday's Fremont Summer Solstice parade, which enlivened the already lively 22nd annual Fremont Fair.
"They're what? Oh, you're busts."
"And what's this? A slug. Must have come up from Oregon. It takes 9 or 10 ground-foliage people to carry this slug. Here we have some sunflowers being chased by the slug."
The only common uniform was smiles, worn by the onlookers who swayed and danced to the four bands that accompanied the non-motorized, non weapon-toting, non-commercialized parade.
There's something renewing about seeing people, many with crow's-feet faces and graying ponytails, all lathered up in oatmeal and feathers dancing, dancing, dancing along the Lake Washington Ship Canal through Fremont.
It could only happen in Fremont, said one of the coordinators, Barbara Luecke. Only such a rich artistic community could shake off the staid reserve from nearby Ballard to let loose with such creative energy and fun.
Buck-naked cyclists who streaked the parade for the second year may have crossed the boundary of good taste (would that be Leary Way Northwest?). But one, at least, was wearing a helmet (proof that people in Seattle can get wild, but not too wild).
A rainbow, sunflowers, bird dancers, Pan, the Queen of Seattle (don't ask), sweet little sunshine generation singers, smudge-toting primitives wearing fur and mud: They were all there, along with elaborate floats such as the Bateau du Soleil and the African Savannah.
"It's all so joyous," said Mason, who first came to watch the parade on behalf of her daughter, Cameron Mason, an artist-in-residence who helps bring it together. Now the elder Mason comes up from Oregon every year simply because the parade makes her feel good.
This year's parade was more impromptu than usual because warehouse staging space was not available for building customs and floats until two weeks before the event.
Traditionally, artists-in-residence will provide recycled materials and the artistic know-how to turn "I want to be a giraffe" into a believable costume.
The last-minute scramble was not all bad, said Angela Pershnokov, a bird dancer who said her group practiced so long last year the event lost a little of its spontaneity.
Organizers finally found staging space in the boiler room of the old B.F. Day Elementary School, but their first creative task was to invent power and plumbing.
A low spot was the day the generator, packed by hay bales to keep the noise down, caught on fire.
"It was a dramatic afternoon," said Luecke.
But, hey, a little burst of fireball is what it's all about.
Welcoming the time when the sun is farthest north of the equator is pretty big news for half the world, said Luecke, but it seems the perfect holiday for Seattle.
"After a long winter, to finally have some light . . . "
Night and Day appears every Monday on page 2 of the Scene section. In it, we'll tell you some unusual things that happened over the weekend around here. If you've got ideas of where we ought to go, send them to Night and Day, c/o Scene, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111.
Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.