KOLOA — Braden Kobayashi of the Waimea High School JROTC suggested the troops be wary of the big bumps in the road on Saturday.
The advice must have worked because the unit, under the direction of Sgt. Major Keith Castaneda, earned a solid first-place showing in the walking unit judging Saturday at the Koloa Plantation Days parade.
In addition to being a part of the judging, the Waimea High School JROTC color guard — an all-girl unit made up of Naomi Ka‘auamo, Kealae Makua, Yasmine Niau and D’Annalyn Helgen — presented the colors that opened the annual parade that unfolded before a crowd of hundreds of people in downtown Koloa.
St. Raphael’s Church, starting its 175th anniversary celebration, provided spectators the biggest thrill as its nearly life-sized replica of the church inspired gasps of awe. The replica housed Father Arlan Intal and some of the longtime members of the church while Tina Brun, Hazel Bukoski and Perfecto “Kiyong” Labrador served as grand marshals atop a convertible donated by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
“Did you hear the bell?” asked Brenda Sameshima, chair of the St. Raphael’s 175th anniversary celebration. “The church will be doing something special each month until the Dec. 25th anniversary luau.”
St. Raphael’s Church was judged the best overall unit in the judging led by Nalani Brun, Colleen Ogino, Lei Nawai, Sue Kanoho, Jane Kaneshiro and Ka‘aina Hull.
“I come down special for the parade,” said Clyde “Big Toe” Kaluahine. “I’ve driven the train, aka Paulo, for the past six years.”
Scott Johnson, the Grove Farm Homestead Museum engineer, had a young helper.
“This is William Edward Bennett IV,” Johnson said. “When he gets kids, one of them will be William Edward Bennett V. I have the small whistle aboard Paulo which William will be sounding. It’s just his size. Paulo, named after Paul Isenberg, the once-owner of Lihue and Koloa plantations, has the original bell from 1920 — it still works. We must share our history to preserve our history. We celebrate our past, enjoy the present and work for the future, planting the seeds that nourish the soul.”
Earl Tanaka of the Pueo senior softball team also came down early from the Big Island ahead of the state senior softball tournament which opens Tuesday.
“I’m from Honoka‘a on the Big Island,” Tanaka said. “But I used to live here at one time. Our team gets hosted by Kuku’s Aces. One of their wives was a Honoka‘a girl and that’s how we hooked up. But she died of cancer, and they still help us out whenever we come here.”
Following Waimea in the walking unit, Malama Maha‘ulepu earned second place honors followed by the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa.
The Kauai All Girls Rodeo Association was voted tops in the mounted units followed by Miss Paradise Kauai and the Kauai Keiki and High School Rodeo Association.
Sara Manuel, Miss Garden Isle 2016, managed to pull all her plumeria together in time for the parade to capture top honors in the decorated vehicle judging followed by The Clinic at Poipu led by Peter Klune, Dr. John Gilmore, and the most recent addition to the clinic, Dr. Narreinar Williams.
Miss Kauai USA Diandra Melchor and Miss Garden Isle USA Harley Broyles rounded out the decorated vehicle judging leaders. Avery Cano noted that the 2017 pageant will be held Aug. 6 at the historic Waimea Theater.
The Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club topped the float judging followed by the Kauai Robotics Alliance and the Kauai Z Tours with Amelia Garma as its favorite little mermaid.
The Koloa Plantation Days wraps up its week-long activities today with the Family Fun Run and Walk hosted by the Kukuiula Canoe Club starting at 6:30 a.m. at the Poipu Beach Park, and the Keoki’s Ukes in Paradise Keiki ‘Ukulele Competition with registration starting at 10:30 a.m. at Keoki’s Paradise in the Poipu Shopping Village.
Koloa Plantation Days is sponsored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority with support from the Koloa Rum Company, the Grove Farm Company, Alexander & Baldwin and Kukuiula.