LIHUE — With one day to the Lights on Rice Parade, sleep has not come easy for Eileen Winters.
“I’m getting very, very excited,” said Winters, Rotary Club of Kauai parade committee chair. “I didn’t sleep at all last night — I woke up all night long thinking, ‘OK, now wait, don’t forget to get a flag for Saturday.’ You know, just everything going through my mind like, ‘Did I write that down,’ ‘Did I do that,’ or ‘Who didn’t I call?’”
Still, Friday’s parade, is expected to a successful celebration with 60 floats and at least 2,000 participants, including the Kalaheo School Sunshine Express choir, the Lihue Hongwanji PreSchool, and Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School and Kauai High School bands.
“A lot of the kids are in the parade this year, which we’re really excited about,” Winters said.
The annual parade in its 17th year, and third under the Rotary Club of Kauai, kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Friday shortly after the Kauai Festival of Lights at the Historic County Building is turned on.
Beginning at Vidinha Stadium, the parade will travel down Hoolako Street before turning onto Rice Street toward the Historic County Building. Parade participants will then turn onto Eiwa Street and finish in the parking lot between the Historic County Building and Lihue State Office Building.
At least 10,000 people are projected to attend this year’s parade, which will include floats from Walmart, the county’s Solid Waste Division, Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai Fire Department and Kauai Police Department.
“I think it’s going to be bigger and better, and I think it’s going to be fun — it has always been fun, but this year is especially going to be a lot of fun,” Winters said.
Police will close streets along the parade route from 5:30 to 9 p.m. No parking will also be allowed along the parade route, including Eiwa and Umi streets, and in the Historic County Building and Lihue State Office Building parking lots after 4:30 p.m.
“People should plan on getting there early because last year we actually had people, during the day, setting up their chairs and kind of marking off their places on the sidewalk and all,” Winters said. “They brought picnic dinners and they had a good time before the parade, but they did start getting there real early last year, so don’t wait till the last minute.”
Though planning for the parade each year often begins right after each one ends, Winters said the most rewarding part comes when she can walk down Rice Street with her 3-year-old Alaskan Malamute.
“Just watching the kids’ faces, hearing the screams and the squeals, and seeing their excitement is just priceless,” Winters said.
Money donated by those who participate in the parade is used by the Rotary Club of Kauai to perform community service projects and to help local organizations. One of the recipients this year was the Kauai High School mock trial team to help subsidize travel expenses for student competitions.
Info: www.lightsonrice.org or Winters, 639-6571
Darin Moriki, county government reporter, can be reached at 245-0428 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @darinmoriki.