The summer Solstice Parade is our family’s favorite Santa Barbara event. I think we have only missed one or two in the last 30 years! We have dressed up and joined the fun many times. One year we were dressed as lamps as part of a living room ensemble and we sang “You Light Up my Life” all the way up State Street! Our now grown children still come home every year for the parade and bring their friends to celebrate summer! We love the parade and then afterwards we love to kick off our shoes and dance with the djembe drummers in Alameda park.
This year’s theme is “Celebrating Unity”. The parade is a great way to bring folks together. They offer a Community Arts Workshop and have classes and workshops on creating art for the floats and costumes, classes for world dance, drumming and more.
As some of you know our daughter, Jessica, is a special person as not only is she a twin, she was born with Down syndrome. When she was born we were told that she will not be able to do many of the things in life that others can do. She is proving that she is not as limited as we were led to believe! Jessica’s list of accomplishments are getting longer and longer. She is teaching Inclusive Yoga classes at the Carrillo Recreation Center for the City of Santa Barbara, she just won 2 gold and 2 silver medals for swimming in the Special Olympics, she is an artist and sells her ceramics, hand knit scarves and hats and her hand made eye pillows online and at conferences. We are very proud of her and thankful for the many people in her life who support her making all of this possible.
Her latest endeavor is to perform with the La Boheme professional dance troupe in this year’s parade. This is no small feat! There are 64 dancers and this group practices 4 days a week and twice on Fridays! She hasn’t missed a single practice! The dance routine is complicated but she is a very determined and committed young lady! She is loving creating her costume: finding gold shoes, discovering cinchers and ordering her wings as the dancers will be dressed as fairies! I am sure the troupe’s performance will be an amazing sight to see! The parade starts at Cota Street, and will proceed 10 blocks up State Street and end at Alameda Park on Micheltorena Street. There will be many dance performances along the way. All of these ladies are an inspiration and also proof that with hard work, a great attitude and lots of determination you can do anything you put your mind to!
There are a few opportunities to be involved with La Boheme: During the parade, while the dancers are on a water break, they will have a “Cake Dance” – a short version of the dance that is open to children of all ages, sexes and abilities. They are also looking for volunteers to carry water for the dancers and help push the float. For more information and to sign up, contact Teresa Novak of La Boheme at labohemedance.com
When you see Jessica in the parade, be sure to cheer her on, knowing that her mom is fretting on the sidelines. When I dropped her off at the last rehearsal, she turned around and said: ”Don’t worry, Mom, I’ve got this!”
Contributed by Sue Anne Parsons