Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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When is the parade?

The parade is on the Saturday on or before the solstice every year. More details are available at the Fremont Arts Council website and the Fremont Fair website.

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How long does it take to be painted?

Depending upon the complexity of your design, painting can take from 15 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.

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What kind of paint can I use?

Here is an excellent guide from Curtis Light on what to use and where to buy it.
Here is a much older guide: Steven Bradford’s Body Paint Tips & Techniques

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Where do I buy paint?

Look for theatrical paint at local costume or theatrical supply stores. They can also be found online, with Jest Paint (https://www.jestpaint.com/) being a good small business option with fast shipping.

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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; you paint mine. Another option is to leave the painting in the hands of the new friends you’ll make at a 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.

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Will the paint come off?

Yes, with varying ease.

Theatrical cake paint comes of reasonably easily with soap and water.

Temporary tattoo paint requires alcohol or oil.

Latex paint is more of a challenge. Your best bet is lots of warm, soapy water, a washcloth, and a friend to scrub between your shoulder blades. It will come off in little flakes so use a hair snare in your drain to prevent them from mucking up your plumbing.

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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.  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.

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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.

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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-mâché dragon heads, streamer flames, pinwheels…

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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.”

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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.

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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!

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Do I have to ride a bike?

We have bladers, boarders, joggers, and unicyclists who fit right in.  If you want to just walk, you can help form our back wall (which prevents riders from colliding with the parade).

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Where can I rent a bike?

Recycle Cycle rents bikes and they’re very close to the end of the parade. I’ve not rented from them, but they’ve always been reasonable when I needed bikes, parts, or repairs.

Dutch Bikes in Ballard has said they will rent bikes for this event.

We are also served by bike share companies.

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Can I store my stuff at the paint site and get it after the parade?

Depends on the paint site, but in 2023, many are starting at Gasworks, and the parade ends near there, so storing stuff in your car should work.

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.

If you forget something there, you can come to the clean-up party the next day and look for it, but you’ll be expected to help with the clean-up, too!

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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 (it’s very cool) then go to the FAC’s beer garden.  Some go to after-parties. Some just go home and clean up. Some years, there’s a group wash-down.

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3 responses to “FAQ”

  1. […] Spending a little extra on makeup paints like the Ben Nye brand is worth it. But if you are using cheaper paints (acrylics are common), just make sure they are non-toxic. More advice here. […]

  2. […] Spending a little extra on makeup paints like the Ben Nye brand is worth it. But if you are using cheaper paints (acrylics are common), just make sure they are non-toxic. More advice here. […]

  3. […] you have never ridden in the parade before, the Solstice Cyclists FAQ is full of helpful information and advice. But here are some major items to […]