This is Hula: I love a parade!

By Lynn Cook / Special to the Star-Advertiser on April 7, 2013
Saturday's Merrie Monarch parade in Hilo town. (Photo courtesy Nicholas Tomasello)

Give me a marching band, a flat-bed truck turned into a volcano with hula dancing and a pahu riding unit representing every Hawaiian island and it is a happy day! When it is a Hilo day that is clear, but not too hot, and the parade is celebrating the 50th Merrie Monarch Festival, all is perfect. Well, maybe I might change the sunburn on my nose.

After watching halau practice at the stadium a quick drive to Hilo’s main drag showed no parking. Around a couple of corners and there was “our” spot. We only had to walk a block or two and there was the parade, marching by.

A convertible cruised by and a voice called out,”Hey, Lynn!” It was Eric Keawe, son of our beloved Aunty Genoa Keawe. I was too busy waving to read what was on the side of his car, but it must have been important if he came from Oahu to smile and wave for several hours. That mystery can be solved any Thursday evening when the Keawe Ohana entertains at the Waikiki Marriott.

Faces looked familiar in the kupuna group of aunties and grandmas who rode and walked by. They were, and probably still are, Aloha Festivals parade regulars. Next, moving quickly to make it to main street, former Gov. John Waihee was stepping lively, leading a group of young students.

Some of Hawaii’s finest young men in uniform, National Guardsmen I think, brought cheers and calls of “thank you for what you do!” The Hawaii island pau unit was elegant and in perfect step. The “pooper scoopers” who followed the horses may have taken the prize for their volcano-shaped cart.

We all were wondering what the drastic climate change might feel like to the color guard, flag team and very together marching band from Grand Rapids, Mich. Then we notice their kokua, their helpers, running from one row to the next, handing each musician a water bottle with the command, “DRINK!” I can only hope someone stopped at the sunscreen counter at Longs before they left the shade of the park. By the way, the band and their entourage were excellent.

Floats, Hawaiian groups, halau and floats with hula followed for hours. It was, and always has been, a parade to make Hilo proud. By the way, there is something I never figured out. What is that feeling of pride that chokes you when the band marches by? Is there anyone else out there that cries at parades?