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Fremont Times-ms


June 21, 1997

Seattle Times Photograph
by Alan Berner

"Stiltman Larry Dobson, 12 feet above the street, and the TOPS Elementary School unicyclists improvise a maneuver that needs a little more practice. Despite the close call, Dobson maintained his balance."

But that's not the whole story.....


From what the Seattle Times photographer saw, this is true, but had he seen the beginning of the Fremont Solstice Parade, he might have changed his wording..…..well, it happened like this:

  • sun-bentThe paraders assembled. Excitement built ~ the parade was about to begin! I slipped on my newly-created sun mask to complete my costume. I had worked many days creating this giant smiling Sun, with craftily camouflaged eye holes through the nostrils of its large nose, stupendous rubber lips that moved as I talked, and scintillating sunbeams of sparkling color radiating out from my beaming visage. Perched atop my tall lightweight parade stilts, I would treat the crowd this year to yet another original 14-foot "Tall Character".
  • My peripheral vision was limited by "nostril-vision", so I cautiously turned and looked both ways before stepping off the curb onto the street where the parade was beginning to move. POW! The moment turned into slow motion..…from my right rear came a charging reveler, turning around in dead-run to yell back to someone just as I stepped into the street. He slammed into me, flipping my stilts right out from under me, and I went tumbling over him and another fellow standing too close! ~ It was my surprised friend Steve DeMars, who, undaunted by the momentary mishap, immediately helped me stand up again. I removed the mask, which had cut into my forehead during the fall, handed it to my son, who came out of nowhere at that moment, and headed to the car to trade it in for a big soft hat with better peripheral vision. I was bleeding, with several cuts and bruises, but I figured things would improve from here on, and I didn't want to miss the parade!
  • What a wonderful parade it was! With marvelous costumes and artistic floats and naked bicyclists and cheering crowds in festive spirit. I just loved those fearless unicyclists who paraded in line under my legs and made a circus of the occasion. And much of the time, the Seattle Times Photographer snapping photographs…..I knew when he took this one that the timing was perfect ~ it was the best photograph of me yet……..and if you look real close at the right leg, you'll see that there is a dent near the bottom on that delicate 0.020 inch thick aluminum tubing which is so big it's a wonder the stilt didn't break in stride! But isn't that what makes life's memorable moments? ~ living on the edge where caution and concern can't dull the spirit and smother the magic?

More adventures as Merlin at Burning Man!