HILO – On Saturday, the Merrie Monarch Royal Parade punctuated a week of Hawaiian cultural events tied to the beloved Hilo hula festival.
Residents and visitors alike crowded the sidewalks along the parade route, which entered Pauahi Street from the staging area at Wailoa State Park, heading to Kilauea Ave., Keawe St., Waiānuenue Ave. and finally Kamehameha Ave.
Groups marching through Hilo included traditional pa’u riding units on lavishly adorned horses, newly crowned Miss Aloha Hula Jasmine Kaleihiwa Dunlap of Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela, and elected dignataries (with their wives by their side) like Mayor Billy Kenoi and Governor David Ige. And even though the USS Chung-Hoon couldn’t dock at Hilo Harbor (the water was reported to be too low) the Pacific Fleet Band still managed to show in the parade. CLARIFICATION: Neal Herbert, President of the Hilo Council, Navy League says the USS CHUNG-HOON crew did participate in the event. They were led in the parade by Navy Region Hawaii Chief of Staff Captain Mark Manfredi and his wife. The ship anchored offshore on Saturday, then ferried crew members ashore for the parade.
Participants also included various hula halau, floats put together by commercial sponsors, and high school marching bands. The largest unit was the Aloha ‘Aina group, who chanted Ku Kia’i Mauna throughout their two mile walk.
Hours later, the final night of hula competition would take place. Halau from all over the world presented their talents in hula ‘auana, and the winners were announced afterwards.