By Léo Azambuja
Join Kaua‘i’s celebration of King Kamehameha I on the morning of June 14, when local residents, businesses and officials will honor Hawai‘i’s celebrated king with a parade nearing a century of existence.
In December 1871, Lot Kapuaiwa, better known as King Kamehameha V, set aside June 11 as an annual holiday to celebrate his late grandfather, King Kamehameha I, who had united the Hawaiian Islands in 1795.
In the early 1900s, a floral parade was added to the celebrations, which usually included a carnival, games and races.
On June 14, the Kamehameha Day Floral Parade, on its 98th edition, will happen simultaneously on all Major Hawaiian Islands.
The Garden Isle’s theme for this year’s parade is Kaua‘i: Moku ka ‘ili La, or the “Island that Catches the Sun.”
“I believe that our celebration is truly the only cultural celebration (for King Kamehameha Day) on our island,” said Melissia Sugai, Kaua‘i’s commissioner for the parade.”
She said the only community that always does their parade on June 11 is in Kohala on the Big Island, home of the original King Kamehameha statue.
“And then everybody will have (a parade) on Saturday,” she said.
Last year there were 75 organizations and businesses participating, and Sugai said she’s hoping there will be at least the same amount of participants this year.
The parade includes floats adorned with native plants, marching units and traditional pa‘u riders representing a royal court led by a horseback riding queen for each island. Sugai said there are eight pa‘u units, each with seven horses.
At the end of the parade, there is a ho‘olaule‘a — a large party with entertainment, crafts, demonstrations and food.
Kaua‘i’s parade starts at 9 a.m. at Vidinha Stadium in Lihu‘e, and proceeds up Rice Street all the way to the Historic County Building.
“That’s when the ho‘olaule‘a starts,” said Sugai, adding the entertainment kicks off as soon as the King Kamehmeha Court arrives at the Historic County Building, probably at 10:30 a.m., and lasts until 3 p.m.
Besides music, there will be at least 12 craft vendors and four food vendors.
Ali‘i Nui Thomas Lindsey Sr., Grand Marshall Ambrose Smith and Pa‘u Queen Lady Haumea will lead the Kamehameha Court.