Summer Solstice Celebration

HAPPY DAY: There are many eye-catching things swirling and twirling about Santa Barbara's annual Summer Solstice Celebration, but we'd like to highlight a few of the choicest bits. One is the fact that the parade often doesn't happen *right* on the solstice. In 2011 the festival is going on from Friday, June 24 through Sunday, June 26, and the out-sized, hue-filled, happy-making parade is marching on Saturday, June 25. The second thing to know is that not only is Santa Barbara the home to one of the largest solstice parties in the nation, it happens to be home to one of the oldest. The party began back in 1974. (True, solstices happened prior to 1974 -- like very, very prior -- but let's call a nearly 40-year run quite impressive.)

AND, WELL, PHEW: Of all the enchanting things shimmying about the official solstice site, we think we like this statement best: "Summer Solstice has Inflatable Art for rent!" Not only does that imply that a parade watcher will see all kinds of amazing, air-filled wonders, but a parade participant can clean forget their own inflatable art and still not have to march empty-handed. But that's part of the spirit of the day, yes? It's a community celebration, and a kind one, and certainly one of the most colorful on the Golden State calendar.

AND THE THEME: "Jungle" is the parade theme for 2011; it starts at noon on Saturday, June 25, and if you're somewhere along State Street between Micheltorena and Cota, you'll see all that inflatable, twirly, feather-laden spectacle.

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