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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 6, 2003

Waikiki parade brings out kids and kids at heart

By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer

Fanny Kwan, the "Fun Fun Clown" of Kailua, greets the crowd as she heads down Kalakaua Avenue in the "Kids' Parade."

Rebecca Breyer • The Honolulu Advertiser

A July Fourth weekend parade in Waikiki wouldn't seem like something that should have taken so long to catch on. Especially in a place that obviously loves a parade.

But just about anyone old enough to remember insisted yesterday's Family Day "Kids' Parade" was a first.

"I've waited 75 years for this," said James Chong, who's a kid at heart at 79. "They've never had this kind of Fourth of July parade in Waikiki for the community and for the children."

Garret Hashimoto, who coordinated the parade and Family Day event, said he hopes it's only the beginning.

"You never know what's going to happen tomorrow, but we'd like to see it become an annual event," he said. "And it's always going to be a kids' parade."

Sponsored by the Hawai'i Christian Coalition, the event was billed as "a community celebration of pride and patriotism in honor of Hawai'i's keiki and members of America's armed forces."

While kids may have been the parade honorees, it was the adults who were making the most noise throughout the 82-unit extravaganza, which began at the Fort DeRussy end of Waikiki and ended up on Kalakaua and Kapahulu avenues, more than a mile away.

Noisiest of all may have been Via Muasau, whose speaker system on his camouflage-painted Holy Warriors at Work truck was so intense that he was enlisted on the spot to announce the lineup at the start of the parade.

"We're the loudest and the proudest," proclaimed Muasau, as his words echoed through Waikiki's canyons. "And we'd like to say a special thanks to Mayor Jeremy Harris — because he is, in a large part, the person who made this parade possible."

Ken Scott of Makiki packs up items used in a protest of the Hawai'i Christian Coalition-sponsored parade in Waikiki. Three gay and lesbian groups were excluded from participating in yesterday's parade.

Rebecca Breyer • The Honolulu Advertiser

There was everything from brass bands and beauty queens, to comic clowns and classic cars. What the parade lacked in floats, it more than made up for in diverse cultural customs and costumes.

"If you don't know what the ethnic backgrounds are here, you will after you see this parade," said Brad Oakes, a Richard Dreyfus look-alike from Scottsdale, Ariz., who said he's in the process of moving to Hawai'i.

"This is a great parade — seeing all the different cultural groups," said Leslie Van Ness of Cape Cod, Mass.

Isabelo Palalay of Waialua watched the parade from the side of Kalakaua Avenue.

"We were supposed to be in this parade today, representing the Filipino community," he said, speaking of himself and his wife, Erlinda, who were named Parents of The Year 2002 by the Philippine Cultural Foundation of Hawai'i. But Erlinda Palalay was taken to the hospital Friday morning and couldn't make the parade.

Palalay, who had been by his wife's side earlier in the morning, watched the parade so he could tell her about it. "She had her heart set on being in the parade," he said.

At the end of the parade, strategically positioned near a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, about 60 people held placards protesting the parade for excluding three gay and lesbian groups from participating.

"This is a city-sponsored, hate-based parade," said Michael Golojuch Jr., project coordinator for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays-O'ahu. "Our tax dollars are being used to spread a message of bigotry and hatred, and that will not be accepted."

Juliet Begley, who said she is not gay but is frightened by the precedent established by the city's involvement in the day's activities, passed out fliers she created that read, "Live aloha — don't mainstream hate."

"We're lionizing the Christian Coalition and supporting them ... with taxpayers' money," she said. "This is insane. I've never seen so many city vehicles in a parade. Basically, what we're saying is bigotry is OK."

A U.S. District judge ruled Thursday that the parade was sponsored by the HCC and not the city, and as a private entity, HCC could exclude whatever groups it chooses from participation.

However, the American Civil Liberties Union's Hawai'i office said the city's involvement in organizing and supporting the parade was more substantial than it has admitted.