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)

  • The Royal Court marches in 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 I is set for Saturday in Kailua-Kona.

The King Kamehameha Day Celebration Parade will feature more than 100 riders on horseback, with the highlight being the pa‘u riders in their colorful flowing skirts and floral arrangements representing the eight Hawaiian Islands.

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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,” or “Kamehameha, the Sovereign Ruler of All.”

Parade units will be led by this year’s pa‘u queen, Melanie Moses, who previously served as pa‘u 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 pa‘u 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 more.

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 is slated from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at Hulihee Palace. The festival will feature hula, cultural practitioners, Hawaiian crafts, the Royal Court, live music, a silent auction and food booths.

On Kamehameha Day, June 11, a state holiday, North Kohala will honor the 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.

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

For more information about the Kona Parade, visit www.konaparade.org.

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For more information about the Kohala celebration, visit www.kamehamehadaycelebration.org.

Email Laura Ruminski at lruminski@westhawaiitoday.com.

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