100th Anniversary King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade Promises a Harkening Back to Hawaiʻi’s Pageantry Glory Days

By Napua Heen

Plumeria flowers. The strum of the ʻukulele. Falsetto voices wafting through the air. This is the Hawaiʻi the world fell in love with. This will be the experience of 2016’s King Kamehameha Day Floral Parade.

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June 11, 2016 celebrates the 100th Annual King Kamehameha Day Floral Parade.  The parade will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the historic ʻIolani Palace in downtown Honolulu.

“We are going to make this the most amazing parade possible,” promises parade Chair Kainoa Daines, whose family has been dedicated to honoring the legacy of Kamehameha going back generations. The parade will be a display of Old Hawaiʻi pageantry.

Pageantry is an integral part of Hawaiian culture. And the reason is simple. Pageantry conveys honor. There is meaning in the details of costuming. Everything is symbolic; colors, flowers, and presentation order all have meaning. Attention to these details requires time and effort and craftsmanship. All of these elements come together to bring honor and significance to a specific moment in time.

Expect to see elaborate displays, unlike anything that has been seen for many years.

Honoring the Eight Hawaiian Islands

To honor each of the Hawaiian Islands, anticipate both an island float and a pāʻū unit representing each of the eight Hawaiian Islands.

A pāʻū unit is a procession of elegant and finely dressed women atop horseback. Women and horses alike are adorned with over the top floral pieces in a brilliant display of pageantry. Pāʻū riding is a tradition that dates back to the early 1800s when Hawaiʻi’s royal women toured the islands on horseback.

In a traditional display of colors, each island float and pāʻū unit will be clad in its official hue. Look for a rainbow of color proceeding down Waikīkī’s famous Kalākaua Avenue. Niʻihau, the Forbidden Island, is white. Kauaʻi, the Garden Isle, is purple. Oʻahu, the Gathering Place, is yellow. Molokaʻi, the Friendly Isle, is green. Maui, the Valley Isle, is pink. Kahoʻolawe, the Target Island, is grey. Lānaʻi, the Pineapple Isle, is orange. And Hawaiʻi Island is red.

King Kamehameha and His Warriors

Photo: King Kamehameha Celebration Commission.

Photo: King Kamehameha Celebration Commission.

One of the most popular parade floats is that which carries King Kamehameha and his tattooed warriors. Every year, someone from the Hawaiian community is selected to be the Mōʻī, the sovereign King Kamehameha I. Draped in royal yellow regalia, the Mōʻī stands proudly surrounded by his attending koa, warriors, all with spears in hand.

100th King Kamehameha Day Floral Parade Review Stands

Photo: King Kamehameha Celebration Commission.

Photo: King Kamehameha Celebration Commission.

The King Kamehameha Day Floral Parade courses the longest parade route in the nation. Starting at ʻIolani Palace and making its way to Kapiʻolani Park, the parade stretches just over 4 miles long.

There will be over 15 different review stands along the parade route. No matter where you are on the route, you will be able to hear the parade narrative.

In celebration of the many cultures here in Hawaiʻi, the parade narrative will be offered in Hawaiian and Japanese at the Royal Hawaiian Center review stand.  All other review stands will be in English.

A grand stand at the Kakaʻako Waterfront will be having a mini hoʻolauleʻa or party, celebrating with “ono grindz” from local food truck coalition, Makers & Tasters.

If you aren’t able to make it to the parade in person, it will be streamed live and broadcasted on OC 16 television.

Don’t Miss the Party

The 100th parade will culminate with a large hoʻolauleʻa (party) at Kapiʻolani Park scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Expect to see fine Hawaiian arts and crafts, hear live music from top performing artists, and submerse yourself in Hawaiian cultural practices.

Most of all, expect to see Hawaiian pageantry at its finest.

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