On June 11, we celebrated the birth of our alii, King Kamehameha. Before that, June 8 was another special day to recognize King Kamehameha and Hawaii’s host kanaka maoli natives at the annual King Kamehameha Day Parade.
I was in Waikiki from 10 a.m. Saturday to observe the annual parade, with a start time of 9 a.m. from downtown Honolulu to its end at Kapiolani Park. The parade did not arrive at Kalakaua and Paokalani avenues until 11:14 a.m. It was a long interlude. I found the parade commendable, with so many participants and volunteers who woke up early showing perseverance and dedication.
Why, though, did it take the motorized units over two hours to pass through Waikiki on Kalakaua Avenue?
But here’s a more important question: Should we dismantle the parade and honor our beloved king in another way?
Is it time to honor our king with another venue? The 10- to 22-minute gaps between parade units were an embarrassment. I was a parade float chairman for numerous years in the 1970s. My sister was the King Kamehameha Day Commission chairperson.
It was a disservice to the hours of pre-planning, hours of float preparation and actual parade inclusion. If you disagree, step back and see it from a viewer’s vantage point.
In contrast, the following evening’s parade with the Pan-Pacific Festival parade was tightly controlled and minimized delay — now that’s a parade crowd-pleaser.
In the past, the Kamehameha Day Parade was a small-town celebration. Waikiki is no longer a small-town venue to tie up traffic, place police manpower away from its main mission, disturb the ingress and egress of beachgoers and visitors. Either speed up the time period it takes to go the length from King and Richards streets to Kapahulu and Kalakaua avenues, or find other worthy ways to honor our first king like our neighbor island brethren have done.
Confine the Kamehameha Day celebration to his statue area — or, raise scholarship funds for Leeward, Windward and Honolulu college-bound and vocational-learning Hawaiians, which may be a more meaningful way to perpetuate King Kamehameha’s legacy.
Our June 8 parade may be good for those Saturday participants, but perhaps it’s outlived its purpose if we really seek to honor King Kamehameha into the future.
I am of 67% Hawaiian ancestry and want the best that will not embarrass the intent and mission to ensure that the host Native Hawaiians revere our world-renowned alii. Let us join and examine if we should pursue more venerable and equitable solutions.
Should we do an a shortened Kamehameha Day Parade in Waikiki from Saratoga Street to the Honolulu Zoo for tourist and local citizens? And should we honor our King Kamehameha with a celebration in the vicinity of the alii statue and adjacent Iolani Palace with an early-morning event on June 11 as a true Hawaiian celebration?
Imua Native Hawaiians.
Wendell Hosea is a small-business owner and community volunteer.