Sunday, June 29, 2014

Naalehu 4th of July Parade

Yeah, yeah, yeah I know, it's not even July yet. But our town just had its 4th of July Parade and town celebration. Why? I don't know the decision reasoning behind it, but just about everybody in town said it was a good idea though a bit crazy, but crazy is "normal" here. This way everybody can celebrate again next weekend with the big two day rodeo, home BBQs, and fireworks. Hey, what's wrong with that? 
(Waiting for the parade to start, sipping coffee from the Flying Hawaiian truck.)

The celebration started out early with a free pancake breakfast at one of the churches. Pancake serving was over just as the parade was getting ready to start.
Our small town parade is nothing like the parades I grew up with. No floats, fancy brigades, etc. It's all home town stuff....and we love it! So be prepared to see some pictures of really hokey stuff..........
Our park folks led the parade this year. Perhaps that's because their the only people around here that have the right flags? But just about every year they lead our parade. 

This year lots of trucks and cars were on parade. Fire trucks. Emergency vehicles. Forestry trucks. These trucks get a good workout during the rest of the year because when a grass fire breaks out, it's serious business. The tradewinds whip the fires into traveling frenzies which could trap livestock and destroy houses. 
We are all thankful for our volunteer fire workers! They got lots of cheers during the parade. They worked their butts off at the last grass fire down on South Point, and everybody appreciates them. 

This "Dolly" is really unique here and is owned by our beloved Ranger Dean of Volcanoes National Park. Every year he drives the Dolly down to the parade. How cool! 
But not to neglect the other vehicles driving the stroll, we had several old or unique cars this year. The muscle car this year was a spiffy red Viper. 
And our area marked police SUV. Hey, around here we don't get many marked cop cars, so this is something special. Our own Bobby Gomes drove the SUV this year, bringing up the rear of the parade. Bobby Gomes is one great cop. If only they could all be like him! 
Ka'u Hospital brought over the new van, taking a load of longterm residents out for the ride. Our community raised the money for this van, so we're all proud to see it being paraded..... See the poke sign in the background? That poke tent was busy all morning. People around here really like it. My opinion? Aaaaaaaaaa, no thanks. Guess one has to be raised eating it. 
Other vehicles carried some of our district's treasures, the coffee queens and princesses. 
Beautiful young ladies, the pride of their community. 
Branda Ford, our county council representative came to support our celebration. Good for you, Brenda! Thanks! She's not up for election this term, so her support had zero to do with campaigning. She was just doing the right thing, her job, and being a good person. 
But of course the local political candidates joined the parade, as was to be expected. The three county council candidates, and others. Election is coming up. Parades make for free publicity. 
So what is a stock trailer doing here? Well, anybody can be in our parade but today it actually had a job. To transport the horses. Lots of riders this year, decked out in the colors to represent the various Hawaiian islands. 
Little riders. Big riders. Fancy horses. Working horses. This is country! This is us! This above horse is quite the fancy looker. 
And ...........
One big bird!  Sitting on a motorcycle inside a truck bed. Hey, I said anybody can enter our parade, didn't I? 
Even individuals can enter. Why not. It all for the fun of it. 
A local restaurant owner even made a custom wagon for this little cutie to ride in the parade. 
Seems like almost everyone in town got into the parade mode. That's poses a tad of a problem. The more people in the parade, the less of us are left to be the spectators. Aw, it's fun anyway. At least those of us too shy to make spectacles of ourselves are willing to line the curbside and clap for those of us willing to put on a show. 
These PQ (Pacific Quest) kids got into the spirit. 
And the local Girl Scouts entered this year. As did several of the other keiki oriented groups. Lots of kids marching up the street, riding on trailers, in the back of trucks, on scooters and ATVs. 
Ka'u Multicultural Society entered. Huh, I didn't even know we had one. 
What's a parade without a band? Thankfully our county band wasn't disbanded a couple of years ago when funds were so tight. There was a bit of an outcry when the newspapers reported that the band was going to be cut. Enough people hollered loud enough to keep it going. I guess people like having a band in their parades. The band marches not just here, but at other events too. 
Here's the award winner in this year's parade. It's one of the religious entries.....did I already tell you that Naalehu has lots of "churches". In fact I was rather impressed with the number before I even thought about moving here. Many of the churches enter the parade every year. 
Speaking of churches, I include our hongwangi. These taiko drummers often come to one of the annual events at the hongwangi, and this time they joined the parade. They drummed the whole parade route! Bet they were tired. 

What a cute one here. Take one child's ATV, cover it in monstera leaves. Add a flag, a blue n red bag, and a T-REX! Yes, a dinosaur! Must be a patriotic dinosaur, ha-ha. 
Several local characters on motorcycles led the way for the Brownies riding in the barrel train. The barrel train comes every year and the kids all seem to like riding in it. 
Our local car repair garage has been supporting the parade for years. He's now up to operating three tow trucks, so of course all three were pressed into parade duty. Can you guess that John now offers U-Haul rentals? 
And every year John loads one of the wrecks onto his flatbed just as a somber reminder. Even if this act only saves one person's life, it has been worth it. The lava is very unforgiving here, so any car that runs off the road gets mutilated when it hits the lava. And people don't fair much better. 

The entire time, one hour this year, that the parade is in progress the highway is shutdown. And considering that we have ONLY ONE road going through town, that means that zero traffic can get through. Do we care? Obviously not, because this parade goes on every year. So after the last parade vehicle passes, we watch a long string of tourists slowly drive by. It's fun toying with them by cheering, waving, clapping, and shouting 'Happy 28th of June!" About half the tourists smile and wave back. The others take life far too seriously, tightly gripping their steering wheels, sour faces, sadly in need of a vacation. 

Our parade crowd slowly drifts off to the rest of the celebration. Bingo. Free lunches. Free shave ice. Free keiki activities including climbing walls and water slides. Lots of food vendors offering BBQ, poke, and local plates in spite of the free lunches (I heard that over 500 hotdogs were given away plus lots of other foods)....and they all were doing a good business. Local music and hula at the county park, which is always popular. 

Every 4th of July, even if it actually is June 28th today, is popular with our locals. Not many people live around here but a decent number come out every year for this holiday. We're small, we're hokey, but we love a parade. 


  1. Yah, they do da kine in Makawao every year, too. Amazing turn-out, lots of happiness. Then it seems to fade out. Never figured out why. I got the biggest laugh about how you described the tourist malihini...they probably feel that way about their own parades in their hometowns, too.

  2. OK you just put me over the edge. Especially with the horses. We have 3 horses that unfortunately we would have to leave behind except for maybe one: my husband's horse because he is so good. This totally reminds me of our annual Elk Creek Christmas Parade. There are more participants than spectators!