Wind, weather doesn’t dampen parade spirit

A parade can be a nice break from all the shopping and retailing that took place over the weekend, and the 15th Annual Kaua‘i Christmas Parade was no exception.

Billed as the parade that opens the holiday season, the event allowed people to catch their breath through the sponsorship of the Garden Island Federal Credit Union, the Kaua‘i Teachers Federal Credit Union and the Kukui Grove Center.

Shoppers emptied the mall to watch the community groups headed by a small caravan of Kaua‘i Classic Cars welcome the holidays as the parade wound past the judges’ stand set up at the Star Market entrance to the mall.

“I brought out the Nova, today,” said Harvey Maeda of Kaua‘i Classic Cars. “We didn’t know if it was going to rain or not, and it’s the easiest to clean (if the rains came).”

Although veiled by heavy overcast and a biting north wind, the parade saw the Kalaheo Sunshine Express defy those elements as about 60 students filled four specially-created carts pulled by a pickup and filling the air with joyous and festive holiday music.

“Last year we had about 40 students, but this year, it’s over 60 students,” said Laine Griffith, the group’s director.

At his prodding of smiles and positive energy, the Sunshine Express received top votes from the judges to nail down the top position in the Vehicles judging.

A bevy of pre-teen beauty queens and their king punctuated the winter wonderland float of Na Hoku Pageants enhanced by a pair of Santa’s helpers supporting the main character of the season for second place honors.

Macys, celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, took time out of its hectic weekend sales to participate and earned third place honors in the Vehicle category.

But the Girl Scouts finished as the big winners with its “green” float powered by Santa and pulled by a herd of reindeer, including “Rudolph” and his blinking red nose.

Under the leadership of Lauren Sugihara, Brownie Troop 812, Junior Troop 817, Cadette Troop 540 and Senior Troop 803 finished the parade by sweeping both first and second place in the Marching Unit.

Following the parade, Santa made his appearance at the mall center stage to present the awards to the respective recipients and ended up clapping his hands as the Kalaheo Sunshine Express burst forth with a patriotic medley upon receiving its trophy and prize package.

That opened up Santa’s Place to an overflow crowd of people anxious for a photo with the man in red.

While waiting, the hot chocolate being served up by the Salvation Army’s Saturday Night Snow helped cope with the cold wind.

Saturday’s festivities signalled the start of the mall’s special hours for the holidays as it wound down from the Black Friday madness, Friday and Saturday.


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