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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Adoring baseball fans jam Waikiki parade route

World Champs! West O'ahu takes thriller series
West O'ahu won the Little League world championship for ages 11-12 in South Williamsport, Pa. Read about their journey through the Little League World Series, view video and photo galleries, and share your congratulations to the team.

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

Vonn Fe'ao of the West O'ahu Little League World Series champions acknowledged the cheers of the crowd lining the street while riding in a vintage convertible during a parade honoring Hawai'i's top youth baseball teams yesterday in Waikiki.

Photos by ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser


Spectators holding signs, including a number of young girls, turned out in large numbers to cheer on the West O'ahu team.


Five-year-old Keaoloha Hanawahine, left, placed a lei around the neck of West O'ahu star Michael Memea during the parade.


Fans of all ages turned out on a hot Labor Day holiday to pay tribute to Hawai'i's championship teams.


Just like major league stars, Zachary Ranit signs autographs for his fans following the parade. Other Hawai'i teams that participated included the Cal Ripken champion O'ahu All-Stars, the Hawai'i Warriors and the Pearl City Junior and Senior Little League teams.


Malulani Antonio of Wahiawa sat alongside Kalakaua Avenue yesterday, clutching her digital camera and waiting to catch a glimpse of 12-year-old baseball hero Layson Aliviado.

"He's so hot," said Malulani, 13, holding a newspaper with Aliviado on the cover.

She was among tens of thousands who gathered in Waikiki yesterday evening for the Parade of Baseball Champions honoring Little League World Series champion West O'ahu, the Cal Ripken champion O'ahu All-Stars and others.

Following the parade that stretched for 1.3 miles down Kalakaua Avenue, hundreds more gathered for a Sunset on the Beach replay of the Aug. 28 Little League World Series championship game against Curacao. It capped a weeklong celebration of the never-say-die West O'ahu team that captured the imagination of a state as it won youth baseball's most prestigious title.

"This is fantastic and great for Hawai'i," said Les Murakami, the former University of Hawai'i baseball coach, before riding down the parade route. Murakami said he followed the West O'ahu Little League team closely and "never believed they would lose."

"The coach (Layton Aliviado) did such a tremendous job — he kept the kids calm and made sure they didn't give up," Murakami said, adding he wanted to congratulate the team personally after the parade.

Sheyne "Bubbles" Baniaga sat in a convertible with his mother Denise. "It feels really good to have people excited about us," he said.

Baniaga and his West O'ahu teammates arrived in Waikiki after riding through 'Ewa Beach on a trolley, greeted along the route by people holding congratulatory signs.

Denise Baniaga said she was overwhelmed by yesterday's experience.

"I still can't get over this," she said. "I'm happy that Hawai'i has been so supportive of the kids."

Volunteer logistics coordinator Nelson Fujio estimated that more than 20,000 people lined the Waikiki parade route, "considering it was 1.3 miles long with 2.6 miles of people (lining both sides of the street) at least three deep."

Fujio said it wasn't too hard to organize the parade, even considering the last-minute notice.

"There was no shortage of people wanting to participate," he said.

But he wanted it to be small so the focus remained on the championship teams, he said.

The O'ahu All-Stars, winners of the Cal Ripken World Series, also were on hand in yesterday's parade.

Robin Kalohelani, 36, mother of O'ahu All-Star player Cash Kalohelani, said she was proud her son was in a parade for all the championship-winning baseball teams.

"This is kind of a reward for all the hard work the kids and the parents put in," Robin Kalohelani said.

Carlene Hart, 54, of Waikiki arrived more than an hour early to witness the parade.

"These kids are such positive role models, even for the adults," said Hart, an avid baseball fan. "I wouldn't have missed this."

Parade participants included other Hawai'i teams that advanced to their respective World Series: the Hawai'i Warriors, champions of the Continental Amateur Baseball Association 9-and-under World Series; and the Pearl City Junior Little League and Senior Little League teams.

During the activities, Mayor Mufi Hannemann kicked off Operation Katrina Kokua, a drive to raise money for victims of last week's Gulf Coast hurricane.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.

Correction: The Honolulu Police Department estimated the crowd at Monday's Parade of Baseball Champions to be about 10,000 people, while the mayor's office said it was more than 20,000. In a previous version of this story, a parade official gave a much higher count. In addition, the City and County of Honolulu organized the parade and Nelson Fujio was a volunteer logistics coordinator at the event.