At 10:04 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, Las Vegas began the Summer Solstice — the longest day of the year, and the first day of summer. Here we mark the occasion with Facebook posts by our Wiccan friends and a compulsory check of the air conditioning, but in other cities, there are parades. Today, the Mermaid Parade swam its way through Coney Island and the Fremont Solstice Parade, pictured above, happened in Seattle — and as loath as I am to compare our one-of-no-kind city to others, I can’t help but wish we had a Solstice Parade of our own.
I attended the Fremont Solstice Parade, named for its host neighborhood, for six of the 10 years I lived in Seattle. There was something irresistible about this fun and freaky procession of marching bands, belly dancers, giant robots, costumed superheroes and nude bicyclists, and even though getting down to Fremont to watch the thing was a huge pain in the ass, I did it. Rarely did Seattle feel more engaged, more relaxed with itself … and the city does it for one reason only: to celebrate the coming of summer. Volunteer crews spend up to a year conceiving and building floats, and thousands of Seattleites line the street to shout their appreciation of the work. Parents bring their children to watch, in spite of the nudity. The Solstice Parade is an event you can feel, not just see and hear, and I miss it terribly.
There are many reasons we can’t have such a parade here in Vegas. Compared to those of Seattle and New York, our arts community is small and nowhere near as influential. Many people don’t work nine-to-five schedules, which means they’re unlikely to give their weekends to the building of floats. And, frankly, we’re not nearly as happy to see the first day of summer. But the more I look at these Fremont Solstice photos, I think we could do something similar in our own Fremont — it just won’t be today, or even this day next year.
So here’s the thing. The fourth annual Las Vegas Halloween Parade takes place in Downtown Las Vegas this October. I rode my bike (clothed!) in last year’s parade, and I can’t help but feel excited for this year’s event. What I want to know is this: What will it take to get you excited for it, too? What incentive do you and your friends or co-workers need to work with local artists, costumers and mechanics to create some memorable moments for Vegas’ only just-for-the-hell-of-it parade? And if that’s not your thing, what incentive do you need to come out and see such a parade with your family, even if elements of it are kinda inappropriate (but good-natured)? Ultimately, I guess I’m asking how we can get to a place where this city is supporting two just-for-the-hell-of it parades a year, with the other falling on the first day of summer?
Well, I’m going to commit. I want to do something grand for the Halloween Parade. If you want to start a parade crew, or want my help with yours, you can reach me through the “Contact Us” form at the top of this page. Maybe if we build our Halloween Parade into a monster, a Solstice parade will become inevitable.
And just to clarify: I’m not saying we should embrace the art of these parades because we’re envious of the parades being held in other cities today. We should embrace it because we’re proud of this city, our Las Vegas … the summer capital of the world.
PHOTO BY GEOFF CARTER