Hawaii loves parades; the floral productions that process through Waikiki or downtown Honolulu often rival the pageantry of a Rose Bowl Parade. But Hawaii is more than a string of hotels, it is a collection of communities. That is never more evident than on the July 4 weekend.

The Kailua parade is similar to many of those put on in small communities on the islands. Last year, it featured state politicians, candidates who would like to become state politicians, and local icons like cookie maven Wally Amos (the parade marshal). Some parts of the parade looked like typical small-town America: horses and riders (young and old); cheer leaders and drill teams; civic, fraternal and religious groups in full regalia. This year the parade is on Monday, so it’s called the “Independence Day” parade, rather than the “4 of July” Parade. It is scheduled to start at 10 am, but last year that was a “flexible” starting time.

Kailua is near a large military base and many sections of the military march, ride or perform in the parade. I have seen similar participation in mainland communities near bases (I lived near Ft. Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma for a time). One elderly parade viewer in front of me rose to salute every time the U.S. flag appeared, which was VERY often. Other spectators shouted and waved to members of their favorite military branch. Now, often, the calls are for “mommy” as service women take their places in the march.

But some things you just don’t see anywhere else – like the church float featuring hula performers or the enormous flatbed truck with a full Hawaiian musical group accompanying traditional dancers. If you get the opportunity to watch a local parade on any of the islands, take it. It’s a chance to get a different picture of Hawaii and the various allegiances of her many residents.

In addition to the parades, celebrations on the islands include fireworks, picnics and barbeques and fun in or on the water. In many ways, as stereotypically “American” as you can get. And yet, for some this celebration is a reminder of the kingdom they lost. I’ll tell you more about that on Sunday. For now, find a parade and don’t forget the sunscreen!


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