KAPAA — Early October usually brings the Coconut Festival to the Royal Coconut Coast on Kauai’s eastside.
Not this year.
The 22nd annual Coconut Festival has been canceled due to lack of funds. Instead, the Kapaa Business Association, which regularly hosts the event, is partnering with the Kauai Veterans Council to bring the Nov. 3 Veterans Day Parade back to Kapaa.
It’ll be a full day of food trucks, crafters, activities for keiki and cooking demonstrations — all flavored with a little bit of coconut.
“We didn’t have anyone helping us with grants so we were a day late or so turning them in and we didn’t get the grants,” said Bob Bartolo of the Kapaa Business Association. “The Veterans Council, they’ve been asking for help, so we said we’d co-sponsor and bring the parade back to Kapaa.”
The Kauai Veterans Council did get the grants they applied for, but only received about half of the money they usually get for the parade.
The County of Kauai matched a Hawaii Tourism Authority $5,000 grant for the 2018 parade, but traditionally KVC has been getting $10,000 grants from both entities.
“We’re trying to raise the money for the veterans because they didn’t get very much this year,” Bartolo said.
It wasn’t the April floods that caused KBA to miss the grant deadline, but Bartolo said they did have an effect on the amount of money available.
“County and state monies went to flood victims on our island and the others,” Bartolo said. “Because of that there wasn’t as much money.”
For the past two years, the Veterans Day Parade has been in Lihue, said Russell Maeda, Army combat veteran and member of the Kauai Veterans Council. But the parade has a longstanding history in Kapaa, he said.
“We’ve always had a good turnout in Kapaa. The people seem to come out more than in Lihue,” Maeda said. “Lihue is more spread out and the parade is longer.”
Jim Jung, Coast Guard veteran, is the grand marshal. The parade will start at All Saints’ Episcopal Church on Kuhio Highway in Kapaa, and go through downtown to Kapaa Beach Park. Activities will continue there, with speakers and a Kauai Veterans Council-organized presentation.
After the program honoring the veterans, what KBA is calling “CocoFest Lite” kicks off. It’s a mini version of the annual Coconut Festival and will have three or four chefs doing cooking demonstrations as well as crafters.
The festival will bleed into Kapaa’s First Saturday, a monthly street party with vendors and food, music and local crafts.
“It’s not just a little parade,” Bartolo said. “It’s a community event featuring different aspects of the community.”
Putting the parade into the hands of the community has been an ongoing goal of the Kauai Veterans Council.
“Most of the members felt the community is supposed to be doing the parade for the veterans rather than the veterans doing the parade for the veterans,” Maeda said.
He continued: “The Kapaa Business Association contacted us and said they’re willing to help and hopefully run the parade in the future, and we said ‘Oh, this would be a good thing for us.’”
Bartolo says there will be something for everyone in Kapaa on Saturday, Nov. 3. The parade includes servicemen and women representing branches of the military, high school bands and the Pacific Fleet Band from Oahu.
“People line up there and enjoy the parade, and then we’ll continue activities in the afternoon,” he said.
Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.