KAILUA, Hawaii (CN) — Windward Oahu celebrated Independence Day in Kailua with a parade, airshow, fireworks and lots of election-year politicking.
Thousands packed Kainalu Street from Aikahi, near the “winter White House,” to Lanikai to watch marching bands, youth groups, veterans and local dignitaries fill out the 70th Annual Kailua Independence Day Parade.
In a run up to the 2016 elections, incumbents and a few challengers worked the crowd along the sunny route.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige led the way, riding comfortably on the rear deck of a convertible with his wife.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell came on foot in full campaign mode, throwing “shakas” to the crowd. If he survives the crowded August 13 primary, Caldwell will likely face a stiff challenge from former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou in the November general.
U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirano rode in convertibles. Schatz, who came around a second time on foot, is up for reelection this cycle. Hirano is not.
Schatz faces light competition from relative unknowns like Democrat Makani Christensen and Republican John Carroll. Schatz served as former Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s lieutenant governor before Abercrombie chose him to replace World War II hero and longtime Sen. Daniel Inouye, who died in 2012.
Also in attendance at the parade was U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a rising star who gained national prominence recently when she resigned her position in the Democratic National Committee to campaign for Bernie Sanders. Gabbard, an Iraq War Veteran, said at a Democratic caucus event in March that her support of Sanders is “a matter of war and peace.”
Not lost amid the political tumult were the heroes, veterans of foreign wars, the lone Pearl Harbor Survivor, all marching gamely in the mid-morning heat. The Marine Corps band filed past in tight formation, followed by a youth soccer league, Uncle Sam, “Abraham Lincoln” and the Royal Hawaiian Band playing from the American songbook.
Later, after a swim and a nap and as charcoal grills were being stoked, the sound of an engine plowed the air. And an old WWII-era monoplane — a Mustang or something similar — came tumbling out of a blue sky, falling and stalling and zooming up toward towering white cumulus clouds. Then the acrobatic little plane flew off over the Ko’olaus to return to Pearl Harbor.
After dark, everyone walked down to the beach and fireworks were shot off a boat as the crowd ooh’d and ah’d, a coda to the day. Then everyone went home, a little line of cars snaking down the broken volcanic cone at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe in one direction, a ghostly procession of lights trailing down the cliffside pillbox trail of World War II submarine lookouts in Lanikai.
Flags were folded. A slice of pie and ice cream taken on the sly, and a few more moments stolen before we returned once again to our daily lives.
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