FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Parade of Champions through Waikiki yesterday honored the 2008 World Champion Waipio Little League team, shown here atop a float; past and present Olympic medalists; and other 2008 national titleholders.
Hawaii's winning athletes earn parade honors
Waipio Little League third baseman Pikai Winchester remembers watching a parade at Disneyland when he was younger.
Hundreds of people were in Waikiki on Labor Day to congratulate the Waipio Little Leaguers and Hawaii Olympic medalists.
But yesterday was much more awesome, he said.
"It's not even close, 'cause now I'm in it," Winchester, 12, said before the parade down Kalakaua Avenue.
Winchester and the rest of the Little League World Championship squad were the highlight of yesterday's Parade of Champions, but they were not the only all-stars.
The parade also honored past and current Olympians, including 2008 soccer gold medalist Natasha Kai and volleyball silver medalist Robin Ah Mow-Santos, and other national championship teams from Hawaii in girls softball, soccer and other sports.
This is the third Parade of Champions organized by Mayor Mufi Hannemann. The first was three years ago to honor the Little League World Champion West Oahu team. Then, last year, another parade honored the BCS Sugar Bowl University of Hawaii Warriors and other high school and college championship teams.
"I think we're going to continue to have these, because I think we're going to continue to have national champions," Hannemann said yesterday.
Before the parade, the Waipio Little Leaguers posed for pictures and signed autographs for fans, including some of the national champion girls softball teams.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Olympic soccer gold medalist Natasha Kai flashed a shaka and her medal yesterday at the Parade of Champions held along Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki. The parade honored not only the Waipio Little League World Champion team, but also past and present Olympic medalists and other 2008 national titleholders from Hawaii.
Tiana Cantero Kawelo of the national champion Mililani Gold Bobby Sox all-stars had the Waipio players sign her jersey. She said she'll likely put it up on the wall next to the picture of her team and the Waipio team.
Members of the Wahiawa Bobby Sox All-Stars said they weren't sure which was better - being in a parade or meeting the Waipio team.
"They were on TV," said Taylor Hoohuili.
Yasuko Duhay Longsod, 74, the great-aunt of Waipio outfielder and pitcher Caleb Duhay, was one of the first people to stake out a spot on Kalakaua Avenue, arriving at 9 a.m. after being up since 3 a.m. making musubis and food for a family picnic.
She proudly showed off newspaper clippings of her grand-nephew while her granddaughter Erin Yim, 13, a soccer player, watched Natasha Kai go by with her gold medal.
Victor Cruz also brought his family to the parade.
"We wanted to see the stars shine. I hope it inspires them," Cruz said, pointing at his son Eric, 4, and daughter Kiani, 9, "to reach for their star."
TOP OF THEIR LEAGUE
Honorees at yesterday's Parade of Champions included:
» Waipio Little League World Champions.
» Olympic gold medalist Natasha Kai (soccer).
» Olympic silver medalist Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (volleyball).
» Olympian Clarissa Chun (wrestling).
» Olympian Jared Heine (swimming, Marshall Islands).
» Olympian Anju Jason (tae kwon do, Marshall Islands).
» 2008 Bobby Sox under-6 championship team.
» 2008 Bobby Sox under-10 championship team.
» 2008 Bobby Sox under-12 championship team.
» 2008 Bobby Sox under-14 championship team.
» Onipaa Rags championship team.
» USSSA World Series Baseball under-10 Oahu Dirtbags championship team.
» Mililani AYSO Girls under-12 championship team.
» Past Olympian Richard "Sonny" Tanabe (swimming, 1956).
» Past Olympian Barbara Perry (volleyball, 1968).
» Past Olympian Kathy Hammond (track, 1972).
» Past Olympian Verneda Thomas (volleyball, 1964).
» Past Olympian Fanny Hopeau (volleyball, 1968).
» Past Olympian Kevin Asano (judo, 1988).
» Past Olympian Ford Konno (swimming, 1952/1956).