LIHU‘E — A grand homecoming will hit the streets of Lihu‘e Saturday, in honor of returning soldiers and the dedication of a new track.
“We want everyone to come out and line Rice Street from the (historic) County Building to Ho‘olako Street and up to Vidinha Stadium,” Kaua‘i Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste said Tuesday.
The event is the parade to welcome home Kaua‘i citizen-soldiers in the Hawaii Army National Guard who spent over a year deployed in Iraq.
The parade will start promptly at 10 a.m. Saturday from the historic County Building, and end at Vidinha Stadium, where the new rubberized track will be dedicated.
Special road closures will be in effect starting around 9:30 a.m., said county Public Information Officer Mary Daubert in a press release.
Daubert said motorists will need to seek alternate routes to get to their destinations before, during, and shortly after the parade.
Bev Pang, one of the county organizers of the event, said that, currently, there are several hundred people involved in the parade.
“We have all three high-school bands, so we’ll have music at the start, the middle, and at the end,” Pang said.
Theresa Koki noted that, in addition to the high-school bands, all of the high-school track teams have indicated they will participate in the event. Former Waimea track standout Travis Fernandez will be coming home from Honolulu for the dedication of the new track.
The Kapa‘a and Waimea high school JROTC units will also be integral parts of the parade. Also scheduled to march in the parade are the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
In addition to the high-school participants, dignitaries who will be leading the parade include Gov. Linda Lingle, Baptiste, and state Adjutant. Gen. Robert G.F. Lee, the head of Hawai‘i’s Army and Air National Guard.
Pang said that all of the military organizations and active units on Kaua‘i have indicated their participation as well, including the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, as well as the Air and Army National Guard units.
“And, of course, our returning Iraq veterans, who are the guests of honor,” Pang said.
Following the parade, a short program to dedicate the track will start at 11 a.m., followed by a special program honoring the Iraq War veterans.
As a conclusion to the track dedication, Pang said plans are in the works for an inaugural relay around the new track.
The program honoring the returning soldiers will include a presentation of certificates and lei to the veterans, as well as speeches by the governor, mayor, and Lee, said Daubert.
The posting of the colors ceremony will be led by the Waimea High School JROTC Color Guard, with performances by the Kapa‘a High School Band and Choir, under the direction of Catherine Paleka.
Performances by Aloha Breeze and Miss Garden Isle 2005, Cindy Jackson, will also be on tap.
For additional information on the parade and ensuing festivities, contact Pang at 241-6392, or Kaui Tanaka at 241-6300. For further information on the traffic closures, call 241-6300.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or email@example.com.