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!


  1. Yes parades here have an entirely different feel and nature to them, but in my opinion do rival the big massive ones in the mainland in many ways. Having participated in the Rose Bowl, while given it was quite a site, the ‘aloha’ spirit found in our hometown celebrations on the street just aren’t the same. Watching your brother, sister, husband, wife, children, … go marching, singing, dancing, or playing music is truly an emotional endeavor.

    In some cases the sense of loss is very prevalent. The Kingdom once strong brought down by tyranny and betrayal, but the Bittersweet revolution of the future standing before you is quite a site for the eyes. Celebrations here, while fun in it’s entirety should always still be respected for its roots and culture. But above all, should be enjoyed by all. Aloha.

  2. Lin, mahalo for that interesting perspective. I agree, there is no comparison. I’m sure that parades here must be very important to Hawaiian culture.The first History lesson I had about Hawaii when I came here was after attending the King Kamehameha and then subsequently learning about the overthrow.

  3. Thanks for the comments all. I am not sure I’ll make the Kailua parade this year – if you do, let me know about it at: blogeditor@hawaii-aloha.com.

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