Summer Solstice Festival, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco 1967

Summer Solstice Festival, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco 1967
Authored By John Nicholson

Slap bang in the middle of the summer of love came this gathering which in so many ways was a quintessential hippie happening. It was advertised thus:

“During the Sunrise Ceremony spiritual leaders of the community will lead in chanting, and ancient religious ceremonies will be performed. Between 8:00 and 10:00 AM, a pilgrimage will be made into Golden Gate Park, and the day-long festivities will begin throughout the park. 

There will be a barbecue picnic celebration East of Polo Fields at noon. The day will be a reaffirmation of our desire to live and share together peacefully and harmoniously in a world full of seeming chaos. At sunset another pilgrimage, to the ocean, will take place where the day-long festivities will come to a close with the rising of the moon.

Bring costumes, gongs, cymbals, bells, horns, chants, flowers, incense, beauty, peace, harmony and joy.”

Surely they missed out bringing bongos! Where would such a happening be without bongos, and jugglers too for that matter? Well I say, old chap that does sound very groovy indeed. I shall ensure I get my not insubstantial buzz on, with one hot momma, preferably. 

The Seattle Times ran an AP wire report of the event and it does indeed sound far out, cosmic, and most decidedly, solid. 

‘The Flower Children climbed a mountain, swarmed a polo field and crowded a beach to welcome the arrival of their “summer of love.”

“A solstice happening,” one bearded hippie termed the turnout for the first day of a season which the nonconformist disciples of love predict will bring 100,000 hippies to San Francisco. (wonderful term: "nonconformist disciple of love")

In the chilly predawn Wednesday, scores gathered on Twin Peaks — 900-foot mountains in the city’s center — where they chanted and meditated until the sun rose.

“It was a sort of Buddhist yogi,” explained bearded Bill Thomas, his arm crushing a red-haired girl in film gown against his suede jacket. (Crushing?! And what was a film gown? )

Wailing electric guitars and booming drums assaulted the ears of upwards of a thousand at the “happening” at Golden Gate park’s polo field. (that's called acid rock, baby. It's gonna change the world)

Tribal groups clustered about small combo bands — the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Mad River, the Phoenix, Big Brother and the Holding Company. (that’s a top notch festival line-up playing for free - no corporate sponsors in sight)

One tribe squatted under fluttering flags with the Star of David and the Cross, keeping time with a table — a bongo-type drum (yay! I told you about the bongos!) — a tambourine and a portable reed organ.

“This is a Krishna, an Indian ceremony,” one explained. “This draws energy by clearing one’s state of mind.”  (err...are you sure?)

Nearby, a youth with hair hanging over his face ardently kissed a blonde. (who doesn’t love an ardent kiss?)

The gathering ran the gamut of garb — miniskirts, shawls, black leather jackets, even a male wrapped in the royal purple of a Chinese Mandarin coat. Most of the males dangled bead necklaces. And everywhere were the paper flowers. (necklaces on males! Shocking)

One squatting couple shielded a flickering candle from the wind with a sack, while they sipped wine from a silver chalice. (keep that candle burning, baby!)

Grown-ups blew bubbles, while their children romped.

At the beach Wednesday night the moonlight ceremony focused on a 63-year-old witch. (of course it did...and does it matter how old she was...she’s a witch and as such timeless)

“She’s freaking out a few people,” a hippie told a bystander.

“Freak out?”

“Well,” replied the hippie, fumbling for words, “that means blow out a few minds.”

That’s how summer came to Twin Peaks.’

Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? And funny how freak out hadn’t yet fallen into common parlance so that straight reporters had to have it explained to them. 

Ah, it was a more simple time and one where there appeared to be hope. Oh for those days once again now that war is here once more. Will we ever learn?

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