KOLOA — Kwai Yen Viquelia of Marriot’s Waiohai Beach Club was ecstatic Saturday after the Waiohai float was named to the first-place spot, and then announced as the overall winner.
“Troy Lazaro normally heads our floats,” Viquelia said. “This year, he’s at a Zumba convention and we had to do it without him. All the other people left already — even Christina Gabriel is gone because she had to go back to work. I’m glad we could do this, even without Troy.”
The Waiohai float depicted the multicultural plantation life in front of one of the associate’s homes.
“That was her real home,” Gabriel said. “No. 17.”
The historic parade unfolded before several thousand people lining the main arteries through Old Koloa Town with more than 60 entries, including walking units, decorated vehicles and floats led by parade Grand Marshall Phyllis Kunimura. Kunimura was able to get Nathan Kawaguchi out of retirement (from the parade) to be her driver.
“This is a reunion,” said The Salvation Army Lt. Shawn Keoho, who opened the doors of the historic building on Koloa Road to offer more vantage points on the parade. “Shierlita Madayag and Miriam Sasaki were both members here, their children came here. Now, Sherlita lives in Kalaheo and Miriam is in Puhi. They’re having a reunion.”
The Salvation Army will be celebrating its 120th anniversary later in August.
“I am working to get this building fixed up,” Keoho said. “This is something started by Lt. James Combs.”
Following the Waiohai float, Sheraton Kauai Resort’s Table 53-themed unit earned runner-up honors, followed by the Kauaibots getting third place.
“Chip Bahouth (Sheraton Kauai Resort general manager) is already looking to make the next one bigger,” said June Cappiello. “This is exciting.”
The vegetable truck from the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa containing vegetables to appease diverse cultural appetites, including bittermelon, squash, bok choy, gobo, pineapple, mango and — no forget the kids — snacks topped the decorated vehicle judging.
The unit was challenged by the Lawai Beach Resort’s pair of yasae (vegetables in Japanese) wagons followed by ranks of workers garbed in traditional plantation wear.
“They put dirt on their clothes to make it more real,” said County Councilmember Arryl Kaneshiro, the parade chair.
The floral convertible with Sarah Manuel, Miss Kauai USA, earned third-place honors.
Kauai All Girl Rodeo Association members were adorned in red, some carrying American flags while others were mixed in with other cultural presentations to earn top honors in the mounted unit judging.
They were followed by the Keiki and High School Rodeo Association and CJM Country Stables, where the Chinese paniolo roped Dickie Chang and his adjoining bank of microphones for a noisy interlude.
“I really liked the sabidong (pesticide) guy,” said Melissa McFerrin-Warrack, the Koloa Plantation Days event coordinator. “He was spraying stuff all the way through.”
The “sabidong guy” was joined by a manapua man using tin foil-covered boxes in lieu of the five-gallon cracker drums, and a cooked food peddler wielding bamboo baskets at the end of a long pole strung across his shoulders. They headlined the Lawai Beach Resort walking unit, which topped the walking unit judging, followed by the colorful, multi-cultural offering from Kukui‘ula, and the ranks of walkers following the Grand Hyatt Kauai vegetable wagon.