In the Fremont Powerhouse, a giant white paper seahorse, a couple elephant heads, and an orange dragon preside over a Fremont Arts Council meeting. Three volunteer leaders of the self-described “ragtag hippie organization” have gathered on a Thursday night to continue the nitty-gritty that goes into planning the 30th Anniversary of the Fremont Solstice Parade (June 16)—an event that draws 20,000 spectators yearly and sees 2,200 or so Seattleites turn downtown Fremont into a river of naked painted bodies and giant puppets and handcrafted floats, a sight emblematic not only of the neighborhood’s funky spirit, but of the whole city’s.
Preparation for the parade and its sibling events—like Feast of the Winter Solstice and autumn’s Luminata—goes year round. The nearly 400 members of the FAC fundraise: “It’s never easy to say we need $50 to make a giant beautiful elephant head,” says Jennifer “Ennie” Brosius, the FAC’s co–vice president. On a shoestring budget, they maintain an afternoon’s worth of spectacle all year; in 2017, they had to scramble to house the floats they’ve accumulated, when their old storage space was turned into a parking lot. And they run workshops—on, for example, making headdresses or paper lanterns—that fuel both the parade and the FAC’s underlying mission to create community.
“Everybody can be an artist, if they really let their brains open up,” Brosius says. “And we’re here to help people open their brains.”