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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, September 17, 2006

Festival fanfare pleases public

By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer

Joanne Houng, of Makiki Heights, waves to the crowd from atop the Taiwanese Association of America float during yesterday's Aloha Festivals Floral Parade on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki. This year's parade participants included pa'u riders, floats, hula halau and marching bands.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Mallory Hee, 17, dances with the Kamehameha Schools as part of the parade, which this year sought to keep units closer together.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Victoria Hee, 14, plays with the Sacred Hearts Academy All Girl Marching Band in the parade. The Aloha Festivals 60th anniversary theme is N Paniolo Nui O Hawaii, in tribute to Hawaiian cowboys.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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The Kaiser High School Band marches by while Kailua resident Charmaine Baptiste dances to the music. Scores of spectators came out to watch the parade, despite temperatures in the high 80s.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Most of the tens of thousands of spectators who lined the Aloha Festivals Floral Parade route between Ala Moana Beach Park and Kapi'olani Park yesterday appeared unfazed by the scorching heat.

Stu Bernstein of San Jose, Calif., who had never seen a Waikiki parade before, said he was too awed by the "grandeur of it all" to notice the temperature gauge was pushing the high 80s and that was an hour and a half before the parade even reached him and his wife, Linda, at the Honolulu Zoo. Bernstein said the long wait in the blazing sun had less to do with the fact that he's a dedicated parade watcher than that he's "a poor planner."

But when the whole show finally did arrive, neither the Bernsteins nor anyone around them were disappointed.

"This is good!" exclaimed Bernstein as he waded through the throng to the edge of Kalakaua Avenue and began snapping photos of pa'u riders. "Well worth the poor planning."

Pa'u riders and float makers pulled out all the stops to strut their stuff in accordance with the Aloha Festivals 60th anniversary theme Na Paniolo Nui O Hawai'i. The tribute to Hawaiian cowboys, or paniolo, brought out the creativity in everyone.

Bill and Elaine Schroeder of Kane'ohe, who apparently never miss a parade, deemed this year's floats among the best ever.

"About the only time we come to Waikiki is when they have a parade," said Bill Schroeder.

Among the crowd pleasers, the Hilton Hawaiian Village's colossal chuck wagon was a standout. It was made of tens of thousands of bits of petals, seeds, and beans individually glued in place by patient hands. But the most incredible part of the float was a mural on the wagon's side of a ranch cowboy riding along a dusty path, flanked by majestic mountains in the background.

"It's made of thousands and thousands of sunflower seeds, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, coffee beans, bamboo shoots and brown sugar," said Clyde Lani, who works at the Hilton's front services. "The horse is made of wild rice. Its tail and mane are noodles."

At the end of the day, the chuck wagon float walked off with the top prize of the parade the Grand Sweepstakes Award.

Spectacular as the floats were, some of the biggest crowd cheers went to the pooper scoopers who trailed along behind the teams of mounted horses.

There's an art to it, said scooper Gavin Guigui, 13 (he started parade poop scooping when he was only 9), who, along with his cousin Kai Kealoha, 12, pushed a floral decorated orange-and-white cart pulled by a tiny Clydesdale horse and "Pine Apple Man."

"The people yell, 'Hey, pooper scoopers you're doing a great job,' " said Guigui, who learned from his uncle Kyle Guigui that small bamboo rakes and long-handled dustpans work better than flathead metal shovels, plus it's always smart to keep your distance from the back end of a horse.

Charlian Wright, executive director of the parade, said this year special effort was made to keep the units closer together. In the past there have been gaps. Crowds don't appreciate gaps nearly as much as they appreciate hula dancers, brass bands, and precision drill teams, she said.

In the end, Wright said, she was glad everyone loved the parade. She was also glad it was coming to an end. Of course, the minute it was done, the work began anew.

"After each parade, everybody starts getting together and planning already for the next year," she said. "It starts in pieces. And then they start melding together. And, you have all these challenges along the way.

"And, of course, we overcome them all."

Reach Will Hoover at whoover@honoluluadvertiser.com.