Take hold of Solstice madness

Here, hold this! So goes the unofficial motto of the Fremont Arts Council (FAC) Solstice Parade.

Every year passers-by get inexorably pulled into the vortex of our anxiously awaited, always festive and occasionally notorious parade. Stop by the FAC workshop space to check it out or ask a question and inevitably you get asked to "hold this."

Monica Miller, last year's workshop coordinator, saw this phenomenon over and over. Visitors might mention some skill or interest they have and, in FAC's open way, a previously unknown application appears where that talent or training would prove invaluable to the creation of the parade.

Last year, Monica had thousands of origami peace cranes that needed folding, and hundreds of volunteers stopped by to help. And spectators found themselves pulled in to the parade on the day of when the FAC needed help to distribute the cranes, so they enlisted people standing along the route.

This year, Liza Burke, our new workshop coordinator, might require aid to make pinwheels - a symbol of the kinetic energy of the Solstice Parade.

Joining the 'madness'

As director for the 17th Solstice Parade, Monica hopes to continue the FAC tradition of welcoming a diverse community of participants. She lists this as her first goal: to make people aware that the parade is a blank slate and available to anyone who wishes to create.

Nadine Smith, the volunteer outreach coordinator, has sought groups throughout the region to come join our madness.

Monica also hopes, in her work as parade director, to help participants learn skills for self-expression, to help skilled artists learn eloquence and to offer established artists a showcase.

The workshop stands open to the public, and the FAC welcomes everyone, for a visit or to lend a hand.

They offer classes - in stilt walking, mask making, dance instruction, ensemble planning, puppet construction and grease-paint application - open to all. The one on building mini-kites sounds far too fascinating for me to pass up.

The FAC also would love donations of time, money or goods. While the parade runs on the cheap, it does require permits, insurance, staff and fences to protect the floats during construction. They purchase a minimal amount of materials, but they seek out donations for the greatest portion.

Monica encourages responsible float building and hopes to see even more recycled or reused materials go into the parade this year.

The rules of the route

Solstice Parade rules remain the same as always: no written words, no animals (except service) and no motorized vehicles (except service), plus no weapons. An added guideline requests no fire.

Monica wants to encourage creative and innovative behavior. As to nudity, it isn't banned, but it isn't encouraged since it's neither creative nor innovative - just boring. If it isn't appropriate as public art, it doesn't belong in the parade.

The parade will start on time, at noon on Saturday, June 18, Monica asserted with a determined gleam in her eye. Registration begins at 8 a.m. at Lucca Statuary, with staging set up at 10 a.m.

The parade route is more than a mile long. The walk isn't hard, but it gets long for elaborate performances. Monica encourages parade spectators to wear costumes, as well as to dance or simply follow the parade to Gas Works Park, where it ends in a pageant at 3 p.m.

If you do want to get involved, either in a class or to build your own vision, you can call Monica at the FAC, at 547-7440, or check out www.fremontartscouncil.org.

However, if you really want to see what it is all about, just go. Everything happens at the Powerhouse, 3940 Fremont Ave. N., home to the FAC. Open Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., the FAC will add more hours as June 18 looms near. Stop by and hold this, or, as Nadine put it, "Be a sun ray - come volunteer!"

Kirby Lindsay lives along the Solstice Parade route and looks forward to dancing after it again this year. She welcomes your comments at fremont@oz.net.

[[In-content Ad]]