Having survived the cold, dark days of winter, the many false starts of spring, and the pernicious teasing of Junuary, it’s no wonder that the Summer Solstice is a marker on every islander’s calendar. Of course, there are wonders in the solace and quiet of the winter months on Orcas and tent caterpillars aside, spring is magnificent as the sun reveals itself more and more while rain sneaks in appearances to seal the deal on the bounty this island provides. But one can’t deny that solstice serves as a beacon introducing the glorious summer days here on the island.
Another beloved, grassroots annual event, and now in its 23rd year, the Solstice Parade is more than just a parade. It’s a vibe that infuses the entire day with fun in celebration of the first day of summer. This year’s event will be held June 24 at noon with a theme of “Soil to Sun” with music and dancing on the Village Green following the parade. Those marching will gather in front of the Oddfellows Hall at 11am. Get your costume together and join everyone in Eastsound this Saturday. Happy Solstice!
A little backstory on the parade’s origins from the organizers:
The Orcas Solstice Parade began in 1999 with the vision of Laura Gibbons. She had lived in Santa Barbara and saw her first Solstice Parade there in the late ‘70s. When she moved to the islands, she knew this was just the kind of community to host a similar event.
The streets were filled with joy, music, and brilliant colors. The level of artistry was amazing, and there were a few guidelines that set it apart from other parades. The first was no motorized vehicles. This kept it more low-key and personal. No written words kept the expression focused on art and costuming; no livestock kept the chaos down and put the focus squarely on the art.
Every year the Parade is driven by community generosity! It’s run by volunteers working hard to plan, create a poster, paint and install our “Burma-Shave-style” signs, organize groups within the parade, and create a fun show at the Village Green after the Parade. The parade has no financial sponsors, it is truly a grassroots event. The organizers hope for some groups to show up for the Solstice Parade with their own creative surprises!
The Parade took two years off during the Covid-19 pandemic, but started up again last year. 2023 will be our 23rd parade!! All are welcomed to celebrate our Community Spirit and love of this special place. You can visit “Orcas Island Solstice Parade” on Facebook for more info!
photo by @orcaslove