Hawai‘i Island Veterans Day Parade to once again ‘Celebrate Service’
One of Hawai‘i’s largest Veterans Day parades returns to downtown Hilo this year to “Celebrate Service,” honoring those men and women who served in the military and educating about how much the contributions veterans, businesses, schools and many community organizations make a difference on the Big Island every day.
The 16th annual Hawai‘i Island Veterans Day Parade marches out at 10 a.m. Nov. 4 from near the King Kamehameha I statue on Hilo Bayfront and will wind its way throughout the downtown area.
This year’s parade route is a little different than in years past because of ongoing construction on Keawe Street.
The parade will march along Kamehameha Avenue north and then turn onto Waianuenue Avenue, heading west before turning south onto Kino‘ole Street and then east upon reaching Ponahawai Street. It will then make its way back to Kamehameha Avenue, where it will turn south again and wind back to where it started.
A large U.S. flag will once again fly over Kamehameha Avenue close to the soccer field road entrance and parking lot in the block between Pauahi and Ponahawai streets, with the official reviewing stand also located nearby.
“There are plenty of daily influences that trigger poor choices and can harm the people in our lives, from China/Russia actions to the fentanyl crisis to natural disasters,” said Col. Deb Lewis (ret.), chairwoman of the Hawai‘i Island Veterans Day Parade committee, in a September email announcing the parade and encouraging people, groups, businesses and others to get involved. “Instead, this parade is one event that reinforces and educates others in fun ways on the importance of service. It lifts spirits and brings smiles to all ages as it celebrates the fabulous ways so many of you are serving our community, Hawai‘i and nation.”
The parade theme, “Celebrate Service,” focuses on increasing the involvement of veterans and the community to serve those in need.
That message will not only once again be reflected in this year’s community and business marshals, Hawai‘i Rotary District 5000 and Big Island Toyota, respectively, but also in the parade committee’s commitment to helping those in need on Maui following the devastating Aug. 8 wildfires.
Any funds raised above the costs for the parade will go to support the Valley Isle.
This year’s Hawai‘i Island Veterans Day Parade Grand Marshals are Hawai‘i County Parks and Recreation Director Maurice Messina, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, and Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Michelle Hiraishi, a veteran of the U.S. Army.
Messina served in numerous capacities ranging from combat to the Judge Advocate General’s Corps as a legal specialist, where he earned his degree in criminal justice. He also is a mentor in the Big Island Veterans Treatment Court.
Hiraishi served in the Medical Service Corps after earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in counseling.
The entire purpose of the parade is to honestly and authentically thank the Big Island’s veterans. The event gives the community the chance to show its appreciation to those who served.
“Sadly, this past year we lost [World War II/100th Infantry Battalion] veteran Wataru Kohashi at 100 years old. We’re losing our Korean War and Vietnam War Veterans every day. They and their families understand sacrifice and service,” Lewis said in her email. “With your help, we can continue to honor their memories and families and to protect our freedoms by inspiring future generations to serve in some capacity.”
So tell others about the parade and come out the morning of Nov. 4 to cheer on the veterans and all of the parade participants who are serving the Big Island community.
For more information, visit the Hawai‘i Island Veterans Day Parade website.