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Parade of Peeps

Santa Barbara Celebrates Summer Solstice

Last week, my grandmother passed away. It was, relatively speaking, pretty quick and painless, and not entirely unexpected. Although those details were beside the point when talking to my dad, who’s mourning his mother and dealing with the shock of his newfound status as an orphan. When we spoke that night about my butter-loving, Birkenstock-wearing, church-going grandma, he quoted his father, who was a doctor, “It’s the cycle of life.” And those were the words that offered the most comfort. It’s nothing personal, after all; just time doing its thing.

And so, somehow, it seemed appropriate, comforting even, to be making my costumed way toward the starting line for one of S.B.’s most famed fiestas last Saturday morning, to celebrate one of nature’s markers, one of the few days of the year when we take notice of time doing its careless, eternal thing. And donning a wig of a wildly unnatural hue, as well as hot pink, faux-fur cuffs on my ankles and wrists in preparation-well, who can stay sad when they’re dressed up like a cartoon poodle as seen by someone on acid?

Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, means something special to Santa Barbarans, something other than an extra minute or two of light. And while I’m no stranger to the colorful celebration, this year, I got to do Solstice in a whole new capacity-from within a float in the parade. And the float, oh, the float. It was a masterpiece of epic, mission-style proportions that gave a whole new meaning to the term “Angry Poodle Barbecue.” In a word, fabulous. And if you missed it, well suffice it to say that Barney Brantingham, Starshine Roshell, Michael Seabaugh, and J’Amy Brown really seemed to be enjoying their jobs, cooking up those blonde-haired Barbies over A-Certain-Daily-Newspaper-That-Shall-Remain-Nameless-fed flames, before offering them to The Indy’s dogs.

The fog had cleared by the time our Architectural Board of Review-friendly float reached Alameda Park, as it is known to do at this time of the year, where the party was already in full technicolor swing. In true Solstice style, the peeps rocked that park until the sun went down, soaking up that extra bit of light while they could. Because, come tomorrow, the days would start getting shorter, until they start getting longer again. And though I hated to see the party end, I know it’s nothing personal. Just time doing its thing.

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