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Originally published June 18, 2011 at 6:26 PM | Page modified June 18, 2011 at 11:40 PM

Even in drizzle, Fremont Solstice Parade sizzles

Giant Puppets Save the World was among the entrants in Saturday's annual Fremont Solstice Parade.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Fremont Fair

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday

Puppy Parade: 2:30 p.m. A solstice parade for dogs starts at the west end of the fair near the bike corral.

Dads grilling competition: 1-2:15 p.m. Dads will be invited to judge a grilling competition among "dueling diva chefs" at the PCC Waterfront Stage.

More information: www.fremontfair.org

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To inhabit the head of giant dog-puppet Dogody, you have to perfect a loud vocabulary of yipping, howling and barking.

"Awesome! Yip yip!" said puppeteer Toni Mikulka, trotting around before the Fremont Solstice Parade Saturday. She turned the giant white beast toward a limp, papier-mâché deer. "Let's eat a fawn! Let's eat a fawn!"

Since March, volunteers have been building the puppets for the Giant Puppets Save the World parade entry. Puppets took shape in the Fremont Arts Council headquarters, and on Saturday joined the colorful menagerie that paraded through a steady, light rain along Northwest 36th Street and through downtown Fremont to Gas Works Park.

The annual tribute to summer drew cannabis activists in leopard-printed loincloths, a giant octopus composed of paper coffee cups, a half-dozen drag queens and one really, really big beach ball. It's a carefree event. Even the hundreds of naked, body-painted bicyclists who traditionally start the parade seemed unfazed by the rain.

Parade watchers showed up hours early to set up their lawn chairs along the route, pop open umbrellas and wait for the revelry to begin.

Piper Rose Oravetz, 3, had one of the best views along the parade route, perched on top of her parents' truck on Second Avenue Northwest and eating a burrito.

"I love just seeing all the floats," said her dad, Derek Oravetz. It's the creativity that draws them back, and Piper loves the parade.

No motorized vehicles, animals or words are allowed, so the floats and performances depend on artistry and acting to get their message across.

Giant Puppets Save the World is "tongue in cheek, a little bit,"said Sarah Lovett, a local sculptor who codirects the group with Mikulka. "But it's also like, why not? If somebody's gonna save the world, it's probably going to be giant puppets."

And Mikulka said the project carries a message about teamwork, as well.

"The only way we can do anything in this world is by working together," she said.

The puppets came to life at a series of workshops over the past several months. About 150 children who visited the group's booth at Northwest Folklife helped make strands of leaves and flowers that hung off the "tree of life" puppet. Each of four hand-dyed silk birds required three people — one at the head and one on each wing — to operate.

In the parade, Dogody barked and gnawed on his fawn alongside a flock of silk birds. A masked goblin chased two children carrying eggs stuffed with feathers. When the goblin got in a good whack, tufts of feathers escaped the eggs.

Soaked with rain and still waiting for summer, the parka-clad public laughed and cheered.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com

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