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Hundreds of naked riders bring the sunshine for drizzly Solstice Parade

Photo by Joe Mabel via Flickr

Chilly temperatures and a light drizzle didn’t stop hundreds of people from painting their bodies and riding their bikes in the 2011 Fremont Solstice Parade.

The mantra of the ride was: “The louder you yell, the warmer you will be!” And this reporter couldn’t agree more. It was my first time doing the ride, and it was a blast despite the cold rain and even colder gusts.

Folks met up at the old Ballard library for a painting party before the ride. It was incredibly crowded and sweaty, packed with people painting their bodies and the bodies of others. It’s funny how natural and comfortable it feels to let some stranger help paint you in this environment. I ceased being nervous after the first few slashes of paint. In fact, it felt more strange to be wearing clothes in that room.

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Next everyone got on their bikes for a warm-up ride around Ballard. People painted as cops helped direct traffic and keep everyone safe and on the right track. The gentle mist and small gusts of cold wind were met with cheers and yelling. Lots of people were clearly riding a bike for the first time in a while.

After a few loops through Ballard, we met up at the start of the parade route. It was on. Riding down the street and having thousands of people yelling and cheering for you is a lot of fun. It’s like riding in the Tour, except that instead of going through years of intense training you just have to take your clothes off.

We made several u-turns along the route, which was great not only because it kept the fun going, but also because it gave the rides a chance to see each other. There were mermaids, a team of unicyclists painted with Seattle Storm jerseys bouncing basketballs, some super heroes, Waldo, some honey bees and many more creative “costumes.”

It was good to see the folks from Beyond Naked there filming the big scene for their documentary. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

The Solstice Parade and the ride that precedes it are wonderful displays of creativity and human energy in Seattle. Every element of the parade is human powered, whether they are hand-pushed floats or a bicycle-powered organ (there was one of those).
UPDATE: Below is a short video I shot of the pedal-powered organ. Also of note, this awesome mega-wheeled trike.

It’s almost more empowering to see such energy and fun on such a dreary day. But that’s the trick to maintaining happiness in this city: When the weather brings rain, we can make our own sun.

Thanks everyone who helped organize the ride and the parade, and good job everyone who brought their energy and happiness to make it a fun and inspiring time.

I did not take many photos of the ride, so here’s a slideshow of photos from Flickr:

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2 responses to “Hundreds of naked riders bring the sunshine for drizzly Solstice Parade”

  1. GaryP

    Lots of video currently up on YouTube as well.

    (with added music)

  2. […] Some people do the ride every year. Others have never done anything like it before. But once the wheels are rolling, it’s all smiles and cheers. Over two decades, the annual tradition went from a few people crashing the parade in the nude (sometimes getting arrested) to being a key part of Seattle’s culture (see our NSFW coverage from last year). […]

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