Commemorating the King: Kamehameha Day festivities planned in Kona, Kohala

  • Units head to the Hoolaulea at Kamehameha Park after the 2017 King Kamehameha Day Parade in North Kohala. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today file photo)
  • Hawaii Island Pa‘u Princess Melanie Moses, this year's Pa‘u Queen, waves to the crowd at the 2018 Kailua-Kona King Kamehameha Day Parade. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today file photo)
  • The Royal Court marches in the 2018 Kailua-Kona King Kamehameha Day Parade. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today file photo)
  • Pooper Scoopers ride in their decorated vehicles at the 2018 Kailua-Kona King Kamehameha Day Parade (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today file photo)

KAILUA-KONA — The most anticipated parade of the year honoring King Kamehameha will descend upon Kailua Village on Saturday.

The Kailua-Kona King Kamehameha Day Celebration Parade features over 100 riders on horseback, the highlight being the pa‘u riders in their colorful flowing skirts and floral arrangements representing the eight Hawaiian Islands, followed by their smartly decorated band of pooper scoopers.

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In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Kamehameha the Great’s death, this year’s parade theme is Ka Mo‘i Kamehameha Nui, translated: “Kamehameha, the Sovereign Ruler of All.”

The island units will be led by this year’s pa‘u queen Melanie Moses, who previously served as princess of Hawaii Island and Maui.

“I grew up on horses,” said Moses. “My grandpa was a paniolo, manager at McCandless Ranch, so it is in his spirit, in the spirit of our kupuna that I do this.”

Moses hadn’t ridden a horse in 40 years when she was called upon to be the Maui princess two years ago, but like riding a bike, she never forgot.

“It’s so much fun and brings back memories of spending time with grandpa, remembering all the things he taught me about riding,” she said.

In addition to the pa‘u riders, the parade will feature decorated floats, horse-drawn carriages, marching bands, hula halau and others.

The parade route is a little different this year.

It starts at 9 a.m. at the intersection of Kuakini Highway and Palani Road, turning down Palani and heading past the pier, then continues southbound on Alii Drive until it ends at the Royal Kona Resort.

Following the parade, a Hoolaulea will take place at the historic Hulihee Palace from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The festival will feature hula, cultural practitioners, Hawaiian crafts, Royal Court, live music, silent auction and, of course, food booths. The music headliner will be Kainani Kahaunaele.

The day prior, at 3 p.m. Friday, the Daughters of Hawaii and Kai Opua Canoe Club will join forces to prepare their floats for the parade. The organizations are asking for the public’s kokua in bringing all types of flowers with 5-inch stems, plumeria bunches with 6-inch stems, ti and monstera leaves to Old Kona Airport Park Makaeo Pavilion.

On Kamehameha Day, which is Tuesday, June 11, and a state holiday, North Kohala honors the great king who was born in the district, with its own celebration.

Festivities begin at 8 a.m. with the lei draping ceremony of the original statue of King Kamehameha I, hula, history and music in the heart of Kapaau.

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At 9 a.m., pa’u riders and floral floats make their way from Hawi to the statue and Kamehameha Park where the hoolaulea will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Information on the Kona parade: www.konaparade.org. Information on the Kohala celebration: www.kamehameha-daycelebration.org.

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