This year’s 42nd Summer Solstice Parade in Santa Barbara featured the theme of “Legends,” with more than 1,000 parade participants, 30 extravagant floats, whimsical costumes, choreographed dancers and characters on stilts. It proved to be legendary, evoking characters from American folklore to Greek mythology, Loch Ness monsters, Day-Glo Santa, Tarzan and Salvador Dali, to name a few.
The first Summer Solstice celebration, according to Joan Melendez, began in 1974 when seven creative people marched down State Street to Santa Barbara’s Museum of Art in colorful costumes celebrating a friend’s birthday. That friend was Michael Gonzalez, who was a mime, an artist who loved to dance. He has since died, but the tradition lived on and became known as the Summer Solstice Parade, which now attracts over 100,000 people.