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Santa Barbara Solstice Parade includes reminder of crisis facing Ukrainian war victims

The Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Parade included some tributes to Ukrainian war refugees.

Ukrainian dance, flags part of weekend celebration; Some Ukrainians in parade.

The music is playing, and people are dancing, walking, and even skateboarding through downtown Santa Barbara during its annual Summer Solstice Parade.

While Saturday's parade is supposed to be about fun, some people also steeped up with reminders of those struggling as a result of the war in Ukraine.

One of the largest dance troupes in the parade included members of the Ukrainian community, featuring Ukrainian music and flags.

Janet Reineck is Executive Director of World Dance for Humanity. She says they’ve worked with a Ukrainian church in Goleta to get support to the war’s refugees. The organization raised more than $200,000 for relief efforts.

Juanita Johnson is a long-time member of the non-profit dance group, which raises money for a number of humanitarian projects around the world. She says they are doing what they can to help in their own way.

Some members of the Ukrainian community actually carried their homeland's flags in the parade, with many walking with the World Dance for Humanity ensemble.

Walter Polowczak was borne in Ukraine. He’s helped the World Dance fundraising efforts for his homeland, and is grateful for the way the Santa Barbara Community is helping. His friend, Gregory Lyutko, is also from Ukraine, and still has family in the war-torn country. He says it's hard not to be worried all the time.

Reineck says Solstice is first and foremost about creativity, and fun, but it’s important not to lose sight of the Ukrainian crisis.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.