Summer Solstice will look different this year. The fun, festive, annual event will go on as usual for most people. But for a small group who are visually impaired or have no vision, it will not be the same.

The reason it will not be the same is that they lost their eyes for this festival: On January 11 of this year, Judy Keim passed away. She was their eyes going back to 1995 as part of the Audio Describers Alliance. She took it upon herself to be their eyes, spending endless hours at the Solstice workshop, interviewing artists to learn about their costumes and their themes. Using a copy of the parade lineup, Judy would then pre-write a script to enrich her description of the passing merriment—its design, colors, and action. She encouraged parade participants to come close so people with little or no sight could feel the costumes’ textures.

Judy Keim, 1944-2011
Courtesy Photo

Judy used the same process for Civic Light Opera and Center Stage Theater productions over the years, attending rehearsals to pre-write scripts that wouldn’t interfere with the dialogue onstage, then giving details of sets, costumes, and gestures live, through headphones, for the theatergoers.

This was a gift she gave to a small group in our community.

As a whole, Judy was also much more to Santa Barbara, in so many ways giving of herself, as she believed it was her responsibility to do. Whether she was helping children with hearing disabilities, standing silently for peace with Women in Black, sitting on nonprofit boards, working for safer streets with the S.B. Bicycle Coalition, or sharing, through her Pedal & Paddle eco-touring business, her knowledge of Santa Barbara’s history, architecture, and nature—Judy gave to the town she loved, constantly.

One of her greatest wishes was that everyone who lives in this beautiful place—or wherever they live—should give back at least as much as they take, to create in this way a better community and a better world for us all.

A celebration of Judy’s life will be held on June 24 at Lookout Park in Summerland, starting at 10 a.m. The parking lot is small, so carpooling is recommended. To RSVP, call Donnie at 687-2912.

To read more about Judy Keim, please read her obituary.


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