Kauai to hail its football champs
A Pee Wee team's parade is expected to draw hundreds
LIHUE » In about as close as Kauai gets to a ticker-tape parade, the national champion Lihue Patriots Pee Wee football team will be celebrated today on Rice Street in downtown Lihue.
With numerous dignitaries coming from Oahu, including football players from the University of Hawaii, the 9-through-11-year-old kids will be treated to huge fanfare down Kauai's own Canyon of Heroes.
Hundreds of Kauai residents are expected to turn out to cheer the first Hawaii Pop Warner team to take home a national title, as the 22-member squad rides in convertibles from Vidinha Stadium, down Rice Street to the Historic County Building, said Gracie Grace, president of the Lihue Patriots.
"We're trying to make it as exciting as possible for them," said Grace.
Plans include speeches and a run through a huge tunnel on the park fronting the county building.
The team was already greeted like heroes when they returned to the Garden Isle from Orlando, Fla., last week.
Hundreds showed up at Lihue Airport's small baggage claim to welcome them home, including Mayor Bryan Baptiste and councilmembers, Grace said.
"It was amazing to see the kids' faces as they walked through the door," she added.
The Patriots finished 13-0 on the season, which included a regional win against Aiea, a 14-6 win against the hometown East Tampa Bandits in the semifinal game, and a 14-0 shutout in the championship game against the Hollister Vikings from San Jose, Calif.
"For Kauai, it's the talk of the town," said Grace.