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Joy of in-person parading celebrated

KOLOA — “This is so good,” a spectator parked on the side of Maluhia Road in the shade of overhanging monkeypod boughs. “It’s been so long that we haven’t been able to do something like this. It feels great to be able to get out again.”

The spectator, one of hundreds, was an early arrival to secure her advantaged viewpoint of the Koloa Plantations Days Historic Parade, followed by the park celebration Saturday.

“This year’s theme, ‘gather together again,’ is especially meaningful this year, as it reminds us how important it is to get together and share our stories and our traditions to keep them alive and vibrant,” said Melissa McFerrin-Warrack, the event coordinator for the 10-day Koloa Plantation Days festivities.

“It’s always fun getting together with old friends, some of whom we haven’t seen in a few years now. We were lucky to be able to do a virtual celebration honoring Mamo Kaneshiro in 2020, and partner with the Koloa Public Library and the University of Hawai‘i in 2021 for a weaving voices talk story. This year, everyone is excited to bring back in-person events,” she said.

Presented through the efforts of the County of Kaua‘i, Mark Development and Meridian Pacific, the historic parade and park celebration wrapped up 10 days of festivities that started with the 21st annual Paniolo Heritage Rodeo at the CJM Country Stables in Po‘ipu.

Keith Smith, a former McBryde Sugar Company superintendent and one of the original Koloa Plantation Days Committee members, and his wife of 47 years, Gail, earned the honor of being the grand marshall of the parade that snaked through the main road in Koloa for nearly an hour before a throng of spectators that milked each available shade space.

Smith, author of
“Plantation Kids,” was further acknowledged by Mayor Derek Kawakami and the Kaua‘i County Council, including Billy DeCosta, who served as emcee for the park celebration that followed the parade and included a keiki area filled with Fun and Kwazy rides and got help from a Kaua‘i Fire Department tanker that allowed keiki some hands-on time with a charged fire hose.

“This is the year that reminds us of the spirit of resilience and the power of volunteerism,” McFerrin-Warrack said. “This took a huge community effort to get off the ground within just a few months. It has been great to get together with old friends and remember why we love doing this so much. At the same time, it’s been great to see new people getting involved.”

Wayne Shinbara of the Hawai‘i Hochi was on extended coverage, arriving for other errands but being able to squeeze in coverage of the Koloa Plantation Days, and beyond the mountains, the Grove Farm Bon Odori festival that also presented the first in-person bon dance in three years after being shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is really hard,” Shinbara said. “I need to find omiyage for the people back in the office. A lot of the places with omiyage are closed, and I only have until 3 p.m. to find something, or there’ll be a lot of unhappy people.”

Tsunami Taiko, one of the lead performers of the park celebration, was also juggling time between Koloa and the Grove Farm Obon Festival.

Others providing entertainment for the shopping in the craft fair area and the food concessions included Kupaoa, Oiwi and Gypsy Spice.
Source: The Garden Island

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