Thursday, June 19, 2003

Fremont Solstice Parade

A Tradition of Streaking

This weekend is the annual Fremont Solstice Parade, a grand tradition of Seattle at its hippiest. You can check out the site for parade participation rules, but basically, anyone can participate by dint of becoming a member of the Fremont Arts Council. Floats are made of recycled materials and no motorized vehicles are allowed. It's always a delightful array of brilliant creativity and, often, scathing political commentary.

Sadly, this year I am unable to attend. I have to help move (Boo!) my friend Michelle into her new (Yea!) house.

But since it's coming up this weekend, I decided to take this opportunity to blog my favorite Solstice Parade experience.

One of the grandest traditions within this grand tradition is that of the Naked Bicyclists. Yep, "naked" as in "without clothing". Well, most of them wear shoes, and some pretense of identity protection--maybe sunglasses and a hat--but aside from that, naked. Nude. Skyclad. Bare-assed. In the buff. Buck nekkid.

Each year the police say they're going to crack down on them and try to arrest the cyclists, and each year--thank god--they do not succeed. Or, at least, do not succeed to the level where the naked cycling has been stopped. Yippee!

It is, natch, one of the primary reasons I attend. Not just for the lewd bonus, but that level of exhibitionism is an astounding thing to witness. It's impressive, and most especially when one considers that some of the participants are, well, not! ;-)

But the ridculous controversy is only part of the reason I'm sharing this story, because really, it's just one of those stories that people don't believe when you tell them, and they make you swear it's true. It is. Cross my heart and hope to die.

I was at the parade a few years ago, with my sisters, some friends, and my Dad, who happened to be in town. A couple of us had gone early to stake our space, and we had a good spot along the main route. Next to us was a guy about my Dad's age (mid-60s), staking his space with his lawn chair, and sitting in front of him on a blanket were three little girls, in that oh-I-don't-know-for-sure-but-probably-between-5-and-8 range.

The parade began, and it was, as always, delightful. We had to explain only a few things to my Dad, so that was pretty good.

And then the Naked Bicyclists arrived, to much applause and appreciation. We were in a good spot, as I said, and a couple of them passed right in front of us, within just a few feet. The guy who passed closest to us was wearing nothing but tennis shoes and sunglasses.

My Dad thought it was funny.

One of the little girls next to us turned around to the older guy and exclaimed in horror, "Grandpa! They're not wearing helmets!!"

There you have it, folks. Kids today are unperturbed by the nudity; safety is their Number One concern.

And a post-script, for anyone who might care: There are often lots of exposed breasts as well...


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