Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Fremont Solstice Parade?
- When is the parade?
- How long does it take to be painted?
- What kind of paint can I use?
- Where do I buy paint?
- Who will paint me?
- Will the paint come off?
- I’m a little, um, hirsute. Will my body hair affect my paint?
- Do I have to ride naked?
- Do I have to wear a bicycle helmet?
- Is this legal?
- Do I have to be painted?
- Do I have to ride a bike?
- Where can I rent a bike?
- Can I store my stuff at the paint site and get it after the parade?
- Do we have to follow the Fremont Arts Council parade rules?
- What happens after the parade?
What is the Fremont Solstice Parade?
The Fremont Solstice Parade is a community event created and organized by the Fremont Arts Council. It is a fantastic celebration of the return of the sun, complete with larger than life puppets, floats, and street performers. The Solstice Parade kicks off the Fremont Fair which is a benefit for the Fremont Public Association. The parade operates with 4 guidelines – no printed words or recognizable logos, no motor vehicles, no live animals, and no guns or weapons.
When is the parade?
How long does it take to be painted?
Depending upon the complexity of your design, painting can take from 45 minutes to 4 hours. If your design consists of a base coat with detail on top, you’ll need to leave time for the base to dry plus time for the whole thing to dry before we ride.
What kind of paint can I use?
There are a number of choices: textile acrylics, theatrical body paint, and temporary tattoo paint. Whatever you use check each color for the ASTM non-toxic label. I use Speedball textile acrylic. Acrylic paint will flake a bit, mostly in high wear areas like the crotch or under arm, by the end of the ride.
If you plan to sport your paint at apres parade parties you should look into temporary tattoo paint. It’s more expensive, but if applied to clean, oil free skin (that means no sunscreen) it will stay put and look good longer than textile acrylics which are prone to flaking. Leaving flakes on someone’s sofa will not make you a popular guest.
Others have had good experience with Snazaroo and Ben Nye face or body paint, but some kinds of face paints fail immediately, so don’t assume because it’s face paint that it will work.
I’ve got a strong recommendation for cake makeup, with the brands Wolfe, Mehron Paradice, and Kryolan Aquacolor particularly recommended.
Where do I buy paint?
Daniel Smith and Artist & Craftsman Supply both have Seattle stores and a good selection of non-toxic textile acrylics.
At the paint party, a selection of acrylic paint will be available for a suggested contribution of $5.00.
Who will paint me?
Whoever you’d like. Ask your friends. You never know, they may also be interested in riding so you might arrange a painting swap. I’ll paint your back, if you’ll paint mine. Another option is to leave the painting in the hands of the new friends you’ll make at the painting party the morning of the parade. Many people show up with their ideas and a couple of brushes and ask others to help them out. If you have a particular design in mind and it consists of repeating shapes (ex. starfish, angel fish, seahorse) you can speed things along by making stencils ahead of time.
Will the paint come off?
Eventually. Your best bet is lots of warm, soapy water, a washcloth, and a friend to scrub between your shoulder blades. Most paints come off in little flakes so I recommend using a hair snare in your drain to prevent them from mucking up your plumbing.
In 2004, I discovered the miracle of “pressure washing”. I attached a spray nozzle to my garden hose, stood in the middle of my yard and turned the water on, adjusting the nozzle until the water was a concentrated jet. This essentially peeled the paint right off my body. Combined with some sea salt and Dr. Bronner’s and I was clean in a record 30 minutes! It’s probably not a bad idea to stand in a kiddie pool or on a tarp to keep the paint flakes out of your lawn.
Last year, I experimented with dry scrubbing first. I used an old, rough washcloth to gently abrade the paint off and then lathered up and rinsed. Like a charm!
Others swear by the technique of rubbing baby soap across all your painted areas and scrubbing before adding water.
I’m a little, um, hirsute. Will my body hair affect my paint?
You can definitely be painted over body hair although it can be a bit trickier to get an even coat. Body hair also makes removing the paint more difficult and more painful. Some folks get into the hair removal aspect while others chose to go au naturel. It’s up to you.
If you do paint over hair, be sure to move around while it’s drying so you don’t get pinching.
Do I have to ride naked?
Of course not; some cyclists chose to wear a little something. Try flesh colored undies for the ladies and speedos for the guys. Buy them cheap at Ross or Marshall’s and you won’t feel a bit of guilt covering them with paint.
Do I have to wear a bicycle helmet?
Legally, yes, though many riders don’t. Creatively speaking, a bike helmet can be the foundation for a whimsical headdress. Think papier mache dragon heads, streamer flames, pinwheels…
Is this legal?
As long as you wear a helmet, yes! By RCW 9A.88.010, public nudity is OK if it isn’t “likely to cause reasonable affront or alarm.”
Do I have to be painted?
Nobody’s going to force you to wear paint, but it’s part of the tradition, and much more entertaining for our audience if you do. The artistic element also helps us defend against those who try to ban us.
Do we have to follow the Fremont Arts Council parade rules?
Some of us include words or numbers if they add to our costumes, but motorized vehicles, weapons, and non-guide animals are a very bad idea for the riders as well!
Do I have to ride a bike?
We have bladers, boarders, and unicyclists who fit right in. Walkers are welcome to help form our back wall, preventing riders from colliding with the parade.
Where can I rent a bike?
Dutch Bikes in Ballard has said they will rent bikes for this event.
Gregg’s Greenlake Cycle is farther away, but it also has a good reputation.
Can I store my stuff at the paint site and get it after the parade?
In general, no. You should carry it with you (you’ll want clothes available at the far end anyhow), or get a buddy to do that. If you have no basket or such, you can duct-tape your clothes to your frame.
What happens after the parade?
In most years, nothing organized. Some folks hang around at Gas Works Park and socialize. Some clothe up and watch the main parade (there’s usually plenty of space at the end, and time to get there). Some go to after-parties. Some just go home and clean up. Some years, there’s a group wash-down.