Summer Solstice in Santa Barbara

Summer Solstice in Santa Barbara

by Ingrid Bostrom | June 23, 2022

Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

Covering preparations for this year’s Summer Solstice Parade? certainly!

Always eager to delve into the Santa Barbara scene, I set off to the Solstice studio and strolled down Garden Street towards a brick building. Outside, a colorful mural reads: “Summer Solstice Workshop 2022.”

I’m new to Solstice, so it wasn’t until then that I realized that this wasn’t just one of the many workshops that came before the June 25th parade. Known as the Community Art Studio, this collection of buildings on the corner of Garden Street and Ortega Street is the artistic headquarters for all things Solstice. I quickly learned that the parade’s workshop model dates back to 1978 – the parade itself started four years ago – and has been running at this location since 2009.

The property at 631 Garden Street features sewing and mask-making studios and other indoor and outdoor spaces for manufacturers, which are spread throughout the site. Every corner and individual of the scene was filled with creative chaos, which I came to appreciate after spending a few days exploring the studio for this photo essay.

One day someone complained about the noise when an oversized inflatable duck filled the air loudly but was told to take a deep breath and “put on your boots”. I giggled to myself, glad to see their whimsical exchange,

During my visit, I took pictures and listened to stories, but I realized that I would barely scratch the surface of this rich cultural experience. I asked about the floats and heard detailed concepts of this year’s theme “Shining”, from the theme to sacred geometry, eternal love, the sun god and remembering the dead.

I was fascinated by the camaraderie, deep friendships and collaborations in the game, and inspired by the boundless imaginations of the participants. These grand ideas required countless hours of tinkering and problem-solving to bring them to life in the form of floats and costumes.

Most importantly, I learned that there is no better vantage point to fully understand what the parade really is than behind the scenes. Luckily for you, readers, the workshop is open to all and encourages and welcomes a helping hand. Isn’t that how the community really shines?


Ricardo Morrison, Art Director of Solstice.

Pali-X-Mano has been involved with Solstice since 1990. He is well-versed in the finer concepts of floats and costumes and is perhaps best known for his large inflatables.

Claudia Bratton, Artist in Residence.

The 2022 Summer Solstice Workshop is being held at the Community Art Workshop at 631 Garden Street.

Raven Wylde, Pali-X-Mano (Artist-in-Residence) and Penny Little (Solstice Special Projects Manager).

Mask maker Hatsol Hammett wears her bear mask.

Metal tree and inflatable sculpture by Pali-X-Mano.

Jason’s quiet place, covered the top of the crab sculpture (in progress) with pulp.

Dedicated to the details of the Tree of Pali-X-Mano.

Artist-in-Residence Lisa Thomas is in charge of the Pass the Hat float, dedicated to raising funds for the parade. Local dignitaries and their families accompanied the float.

Gretchen Graham (left) and Shanny Stark cut fabrics with La Boheme Dance.

David Machacek (left) and Jeff Dutcher stand behind their “Ducky Derby” floats. Their float was a tribute to Dutch’s mom, who used to organize Duck Derbys to raise money for the Mental Health Association in Greenfield, Indiana.

Geoffrey “Geo” Barbie (left) and Richard O’Steen developed a close friendship through the Winter Solstice.

Gold costumes are being made for local dignitaries and their families. Mayor Randy Rowse will wear gold sequins.

The sun peers down from the doorway of the mask-making studio where Caroline Walker and Hathor Hammett work.

BellaDonna has been designing and sewing drag apparel for more than 20 years, and this year, for the first time, she is the appointed seamstress for the Winter Solstice. “How come I wasn’t part of this before?”

Carlos Cuellar Jr. Bathed in Sunshine and Pulp

Daisy Scott with sound magazine Stop and volunteer to help her.

Amber Prado smiles while helping a crab float, inspired by the crab in the movie Moana.

Jenson Smith-Morrison within the frame of a float shaped like a crab. A pulley system will operate the crab’s claws.

Sun Bear Wilshun, Riccardo Morrison, Gueria Gaston (stroking Moose), Carlos Cuellar and Beeman (left to right) are stronger

Irene Ramirez mixes silver paint onto a sponge and floats on the moon behind her.

Biman — who prefers to drop his name, Gregory, because his last name suits him better — has dedicated his passion for music and art to the finale float for over 40 years. He looks forward to the winter solstice more than all other holidays combined. When he considered painting his ongoing floats in a perfect golden yellow, Beeman described the parade experience as “a day of checking one’s physical and mental health in the present moment.”


Celebrating the 2022 Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice Parade begins at noon on June 25 at the corner of Ortega Street and Santa Barbara Street and continues along Santa Barbara Street until it reaches the festival at Alameda Park. Other celebrations are also held on June 23rd and 24th.Look solsticeparade.com Details.

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