Fremont Arts Council
Fremont Arts Council has been working with City Departments to find a 30-foot by 40-foot space for their floats.

29th year could be last for Fremont Solstice Parade

For many Seattle locals what comes to mind when they think of the Fremont Solstice Parade is a procession of naked bodies painted in a mosaic of colors leading the parade on bicycles.

Yes, that is a central thrust of the spectacle making up the celebration on the first day of summer, but the rest of parade is made up of floats and performers that have made the parade a parade for the last 29 years.

But now parade organizers have announced that because they’ve lost a place to store those parades floats, the iconic Fremont event could be facing its last year.

“We have 15 floats, and after the parade we will need a storage space,” said Susan Harper, President, Fremont Arts Council.

No motorized vehicles are allowed in the Solstice Parade, so the floats the council keeps are “people-powered.” The Council was renting a space from an auto-body shop near Hales Ales, but the shop recently told them they are going to use the space for parking.

“We can flat pack them on top of each other, abut if we don't have a place to store them we are going to have to get rid of them, and it’s going to be a real problem, but it’s kind of silly with the 30th anniversary coming up.”

Parade 3
Shane Harms/Ballard News-Tribune

Peter Tom, an active and founding member of the Fremont Arts Council said they only need a 30-foot by 40-foot space to store the floats.

“The fact of the matter is that this will be the last event if we don't find a storage space. If we destroy all those floats we’re not doing it anymore. It sounds really weird to say that but if people want the event to happen in the future something needs to happen before we destroy the floats,” said Tom.

Tom said they have until August 7 to find a space for the floats.

Right now the floats line up along Fremont Avenue North in front of the Council’s headquarters at 3940 Fremont Avenue North as volunteers and parade participants design and dress them for the big parade on June 17.

The Fremont Arts Council is an entirely volunteered-based organization. A lot of the funding comes from membership dues ($50) and private donations from locals businesses and individuals. The Fremont Arts Council also organizes other iconic events such as Luminata, Troll-o-ween, Feast of the Winter Solstice, and May Day at Woodland Park.

“A lot of people don’t know how much of an institution the council is.”

Harper has been a member of the group since 1992. She also works for the City of Seattle.

Last year there was a new City ordinance that covered al special events permits that made the costs more reflective of the event, meaning costs went up for larger events. However, the City identified certain events that would basically be exempt from paying the larger fees, which included the Fremont Solstice Parade, Fourth of July Celebration, SeaFair and the Macy’s Parade.

Parade 2
Shane Harms/Ballard News-Tribune

“If we were to pay the full price it would be four times what we had been paying, and we can’t afford that. … They (the City) didn't want to price us out of existence,” said Harper.

“Seattle is really changing so to get that kind of affirmation from the Special Event’s Committee really told us as artists and lovers of expression that there’s a value there, and we’ve got to safeguard it.”

Harper said she has been talking with City Councilmembers, SDOT and Seattle Parks Department to find a space for the floats, however a solution has not been identified and their August 7 deadline is approaching.

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