Sunday, June 17, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Fremont shows its sunny side

Seattle Times staff reporter

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One day, Shea Planert, 4½, journeyed to the center of the universe, to a strange place where trolls lurk under the bridge, bicyclists ride freely in the wind and big, hulking monsters swipe at little boys with ladybug galoshes.

But monsters don't scare Shea - he rather likes them. Plus, Mommy was near.

"I heard there's a monster puppet," Shea said, sitting on a street with an estimated 50,000 other revelers and bubbling with anticipation for the Fremont Summer Solstice Parade. "Are there skeletons? I like scary stuff."

Few came to this weekend's 30th annual Fremont Fair solely for monsters. Some came for the foods of faraway places. Others came to peruse the fair's offerings, which included rusted lawn ornaments, weather vanes, tarot readings and 6-pound jars of beeswax.

Others came for the parade's pagan, tribal rhythms or the Art Car Expo, where automobiles were welded, painted and sculpted to look like volcanoes or native ruins or anything else the artist had in mind.

What everyone saw was not only the sun - a welcomed appearance at this celebration of summer - but also the free-expression, protest-loving sentiments of Fremont, one of Seattle's most artistic neighborhoods.

There was no better illustration of the fair's quirkiness than in its parade - with its wild costumes, floats and giant puppets - and nude bicyclists, which led to a flap over the permit for this year's parade.

Before the city issued this year's parade permit, police said they have gotten numerous complaints about the nude cyclists every year. They asked the Fremont Arts Council to post signs along the parade route warning cyclists, who are not a sanctioned part of the parade, about laws against indecent exposure. The council said no, even though members discouraged the nudity.

In 1998, two bikers in the buff were arrested. None were arrested this year.

At the parade, Shea scarcely noticed the cyclists.

His sky-blue eyes grew to saucer size as the colors and music went by. He beat his plastic sword to the pavement in rhythm with samba music and celebrated when dancers tossed candy his way. The cyclists drew applause from the crowd - except for Shea, who was, after all, waiting for the monsters.

But when the monster he'd been looking for swooped down on Shea and his brother, Shea shied away. He peeked from behind his mom's back until the monster passed.


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