KEKAHA — Charlie Numazawa was ready to snack, Thursday morning during the Kekaha Fourth of July celebration at the Faye Park.
“She was first in line when the water slides opened,” her mother said. “After spending the entire morning in the water, she’s ready to eat. Got to put back some of that energy because the best part of this — besides the water slides — is the free fireworks show.”
The Kekaha Fourth of July celebration that opened Thursday morning was just one of three big gatherings celebrating the birth of America, the other two being the Pacific Missile Range Facility Freedom Fest, Tuesday night, and the Kauai Hospice Concert in the Sky that opened Thursday afternoon at Vidinha Stadium. Each of the events drew audiences that numbered into the thousands.
“I don’t know about sleep,” said Thomas Nizo, working the audio on the county’s mobile stage. “By the time we got out of the base from the Freedom Fest, it was 3:30; I had to get Paddie Boy Malama in the water because he was going to Na Pali, and now, it’s Kekaha. I’m just trying to get some sleep whenever I can.”
The Kekaha Fourth of July celebration featured a host of organizations dispensing various foods, a continuous lineup of entertainment, and of course the free fireworks show that forced the closure of several roads in the area as people adjourned for home.
“This is really good,” said Carlina Vea, who along with her friend Lourdes Domingo, were getting ready to leave for home. “We’re lucky. She and I both live in the Kekaha senior housing so we come early to see what they have. We can go home and come back when some of the contests like the watermelon eating and ice cream eating starts. Then, when the fireworks start, we just come outside our house and see.”
Amidst the variety of patriotic offerings and food, E Ola Mau Na Leo O Kekaha demonstrated its pride for the Westside town with a variety of wear while registering people for the community association.
“I used to go to all their meetings,” said Sam Bustillos, who along with Darryl Kua, and Wayne Ayudan, are credited with being the organizer of the Kekaha gathering. “I don’t know how I got put in this position. I’ve been doing this for a long time — at least five straight years with Darryl. We just got volun-told.”
Larry Manuel said the best part of the July Fourth celebration is how the community comes together.
“This is my seventh year doing the displays of plantation days memorabilia,” Manuel said. “The best part of this is how the community all comes together. In the old days, this used to last three days. We had basketball, softball, and volleyball. The plantation crews — the shop, carpentry, the office, all formed teams and competed. We even had a greased pole, and a greased pig contest.”
Elena Engelsman of Arizona was among the throng of volunteers helping the West Kauai Methodist Church with their offering of Aunty Becky’s poi balls, malasadas, pronto pups, and other specialized local goodies.
“Kekaha is my home,” Engelsman said. “I might be living in Arizona, but you have to come home to help.”
Winona Steed agreed.
“I’m glad I can still contribute,” the kupuna said.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.