I have previously mentioned the peculiar neighborhood Fremont, known as “The Center of the Universe,” host to the annual Solstice Parade, which is a bizarre and fabulously wild, trip down the rabbit hole. It is a magical mystery tour of very open and free-form artistic expression: A stream-of-consciousness of the creativity and collective eccentricities of people from Fremont. If you attempted to derive a unified meaning from the parade, you would undoubtedly lose your marbles; So don’t try, just enjoy the strange weirdness.
The Painted [Naked] Cyclists of the Solstice Parade
The wildly popular parade draws a crowd, partly due to being preceded by a naked (but fully-body-painted) bike parade known as the Solstice Cyclists. The unofficial and unsanctioned naked cycling tradition started when a few streakers crashed the parade, and has grown into thousands. The Fremont Arts Council’s website says “While the painted cyclists are a beloved part of the Solstice Parade, they are actually in no way affiliated with the Fremont Arts Council”.
While you may think that this is an anything-goes naked frenzy, attended solely by perverts, there are a few basic rules [guidelines at best] as well as societal expectations of decency. The cyclists are painted to accentuate the human body as an art form as opposed to simple public lewdness . Almost everyone is painted, and many of them are without a doubt quite artistic. Those who are not painted are heckled by other participants and bystanders! I mean everyone has a moral code, and naked cyclists are no exception!
Having accidently seen the International Naked Bike Ride of Portland, which is just naked bicyclists (sans body paint), [I am becoming a bit of a connoisseur of naked parades]: I can honestly say that The Painted Cyclists of the Solstice Parade are far more interesting and make for a far more family-friendly naked parade! And (I kid you not) that is how the event is viewed: a lighthearted, fun, [family friendly(?)] display of uninhibited freedom and artistic expression that just happens to use the human form as a canvas.
This fully nude dude in a Guy Fawkes mask [the modern symbol of anti-authoritarianism and/or political activism] hopped off his bike for a photo-op with a surprised but easy-going Seattle police officer.
The Solstice Parade
The actual parade itself was really fantastic. I have not been to too very many parades, but this one was far and away the most entertaining.
And of course the beloved Flying Spaghetti Monster is a staple of the Fremont Solstice Parade! Preaching Pastafarianism to the masses!
Colby wanted to join the parade but was far too tired.
The parade is cherished by both the young....
... and the young at heart.
I put my remaining pictures into collages, which are nicely representative of the broad spectrum of the parade: the beautiful, the bizarre, the cute-overload, and the impressive.
Look at this awesome little kid on stilts!
What sets this parade apart from many other parades:
There really is no theme! While it is a parade for the summer solstice, there is really nothing tying one crazy thing to the next, and that allows it to be completely unpredictable, as if you stepped out of reality and into bizarre dream.
It is incredibly unstructured, open-minded, and laissez-faire. If you wanted to randomly join the parade wearing any random thing... or completely naked (and painted), you could, and almost no one would think it odd.
No Logos, Ads, or Printed Words allowed! This may seem trivial, but it is crucial to the aesthetic of the parade. Because of this rule, everything is completely open to interpretation. You do not even know what group any given float is representing. And best of all there is no floats with Ads saying “Ed’s Used Cars” etc, just cool visual stuff for everyone to enjoy. They eloquently explain it as follows: “Participants must stretch to express their ideas visually, groups flow together in one juxtaposed whole, and we’re all happily free of logos for the day.” Brilliant!