Today is the summer solstice. Longest day of the year for all us Northern Hemisphere dwellers. And, low and behold, as I sit at the window writing this morning, the sun shines, the city awash, perking up for the most daylight one can possibly have. Oh, happy day!
I miss the celebration of the solstice. I’ve attended solstice parties in Colorado, had solstice BBQ’s in Maine, participated in an otherworldly solstice gathering on the steps of the Pantheon in Rome (another story for another time). But nothing I’ve come across has quite the unique intrigue as the Fremont Solstice Festival.

Okay, okay, it wasn’t held on the exact solstice, but hey, not every amazing holiday can fall on a weekend (for further annoyance, see: July 4th, 2012: Wednesday), but that’s not stopping anyone from partying down the weekend before the solstice.

This year, though, I wasn’t just an observer. This year, Verity was invited to have a booth at Gasworks Park, celebrating People, and various co-ops from around the area. There was a booth for setting up rain water recycling, a booth with chickens–real, live chickens! hot diggity!–a booth for voter registration, and, of course, a cadre of musicians, one woman tuning up her electric saw. There were hula-hoops, which, sad to say, I am terrible at. Once, twice, three times and it’s down. Somehow, my hips weren’t made for gyrating in that special, hula-hoop way. It’s even more embarrassing when the six year old kid can stand there for minutes, big, toothy grin on his face. Dang it.

We were there to spread the word about Verity, to get out into the community and talk to people, explain what credit unions are all about, show them we’re people, just hanging out in the park, normal and such. Our fearless leader, Vivian, brought a table, and through gusts of wind and gathering small rocks to put in cups and flyer-holders, we talked. We asked people to help us decide where to donate $200. There were categories, ranging from Love and Compassion to Animals to Education and the Environment, with many stops in between. People could spend three tokens however they chose, and the category with the most tokens would be the winner.

Some reluctantly pulled aside by Vivian’s enthusiasm, some wandering over to ask tough questions about opening accounts. It was great to hear stories about people wanting to help in the community, and I enjoyed seeing how we, as a credit union, are part of a much larger community. It’s always nice to gain that perspective from time to time. Put me in my place, which, I’m sure, some people think I need more often. HA.

Overall, it was a wonderful afternoon, and interesting to see the festival from the other side, not as a crazed naked person body-painted up, but as someone with something to say and do, trying to engage said crazed naked persons body-painted up. That’s the one…pleasure? fear? uncomfortableness?…that the Solstice Parade offers up: The Naked Bicycle Ride. And boy, were they naked. And painted. But mostly, naked. Huh.

Then the afternoon was over, and we all went home, and life reverted to normal Solstice shenanigans. Meat on sticks. Music. Elephant Ears. Beer gardens. Sounders game (we won’t talk about that). More naked people. More food on sticks. What Solstice Parade would be complete without food on sticks? Exactly.

Happy Solstice!

Matthew Kingston

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