The Little League World Series champs from Honolulu landed at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport Monday to a hero’s welcome and represented a much-needed boost to an island state that had been preoccupied by Hurricane Lane.
The 14 boys and three coaches were showered in lei, given Zip Pacs from Zippy’s and received a raucous greeting from the Royal Hawaiian Band, which played the theme to “Hawaii 5-0” as the team entered a press conference and was greeted by family, friends and the Honolulu media.
They shook hands with Gov. David Ige, Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho and City Councilmembers Kymberly Pine and Brandon Elefante.
Unlike Hawaii’s two previous Little League World Series champs from Ewa Beach and Waipahu, the Honolulu team represents Oahu’s urban core. City managing director Roy Amemiya said plans are underway to hold a parade for the team sometime this week, likely downtown, not in Waikiki.
“It’s for the residents, not the visitors,” Amemiya said.
Caldwell and Ige praised the team for representing Hawaii with humility and sportsmanship — especially at a time of uncertainty.
“After Hurricane Lane, we needed some good news,” Caldwell said. “… These young men showed grace and humility.”
Hawaii’s Ka’olu Holt pitched his first complete game on Sunday as the team went went undefeated at South Willimasport, Pa. and beat South Korea 3-0 to win the world series.
With previous Little League World Series wins by teams from Waipahu and Ewa Beach, Hawaii is now one of seven U.S. states to win at least three championships. But the Hawaii victories all have come in the last 14 years.
Watch Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies as they cover the homecoming here: