Annual Honolulu Festival - Grand Parade, March 4, 2012

by Maria Jalkestedt
photographs by Maria Jalkestedt

Last Sunday, March 4, the Grand parade along Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki, capped the annual Honolulu Festival. The 18th annual Honolulu Festival this was a three-day extravaganza that started on March 2, with the idea share the many cultures of the Pacific Region with both Hawaiians and visitors, in hope to contribute to world peace and deepen the friendship with the different countries.

Each year, a new sub-theme to the original theme “Pacific Harmony” is in place, where the main idea is to promote understanding, economic cooperation and ethnic harmony between the people of Hawaii and the Pacific Rim region, according to the Festival's own website The festival was initially an event featuring Japanese and Hawaiian culture in order to deepen the bond between the former enemies. The festival's target is to share the rich and vibrant blend of Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific culture with the rest of the world by using educational activities and programs sponsored by The Honolulu Festival. The festival attracts thousands of new and returning spectators from all over the world who seeks to experience a spectacle beyond Hawaii. This year, over 5,000 visitors, mainly from Japan, came to participate and enjoy the festival. The festival is also a large boost in Hawaii’s tourist economy, with visitors generating the money as the spent approximately $10 million during the weekend.

As the theme this year was "Bonding together, Hand in Hand," there were artisans from not only Hawaii, but also from the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Tahiti and the U.S. Mainland. Throughout the festival, there were activities on various places in the heart of Oahu such as craft fairs, film festivals, dance performances and also educational activities where one got the opportunity of understanding the Japanese cultural references in Anime.
The cultural and arts performances where mainly held at five different locations in Oahu between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.: the Hawaiian Convention Center, Ala Moana Shopping Center, Waikiki Beach Walk, Waikiki Shopping Center and the DFS Galleria.

The festival began on March 2, with an educational tour at the Hawaiian Convention Center in Waikiki. It continued with the different events at the different locations during Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Prior to the Nagaoka Fireworks show, the Grand Parade concluded the festival. The parade started at 4:30 p.m. at Saratoga Road and continued along Kalakaua Avenue. To be seen were many spectacular and cultural performances by native hula dancers, martial art groups, appearances by miss Hawaii, miss Filipina, the Mayor of Oahu and many more.

Kato San, one of the Japanese visitors, explained the parade to be the highlight of the festival. “I have been here for a week with my family. We have gone to many events on the festival and my children loved it. They wanted to go back and have more fun. But they said that they really loved the parade. They even asked me if we could come back next year so that they could be in the parade too,” he said.

The parade began with the Mayor walking among and greeting the thousands of people along the Avenue, followed by one of the many dance troupes representing the Pacific. The people showed great appreciation of the performances as they stood solidly at their spots while the rain started pouring down.


“The best part of the festival was definitely the Grand Parade. It was amazing to see so many different dances and performances from all over Asia,” said Judith Buchim, student at the Hawaii Pacific University. “I never knew that so many people would show, especially since the weather wasn’t so good. I mean, it was raining the entire parade but people didn’t even walk away. I even saw some people unfold portable chairs and making themselves comfortable,” she continued.

The festival concluded with the Nagaoka Fireworks at Waikiki Beach. The giant breathtaking event display originated from Nagaoka City in Niigata, Japan and they brought it to Hawaii for the festival. Originally, the fireworks was scheduled for the 2011’s festival, but it was delayed for the next year due to the earthquake and tsunami that devastatingly hit Japan the previous year. As approximately 1,400 fireworks lit up for the sole event, people were amazed by the view.

“I was in my room, just reading when all of a sudden, I hear noises outside that sounded like thunder. I was really convinced it was, but I had to go outside to check. Little did I know that fireworks were all over Waikiki. It was absolutely beautiful,” said Amanda Damo, student from H.P.U.

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2015-07-20 @ 10:35:52

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