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The Hilton Hawaiian Village float in the Aloha Festival Parade went down Kalakaua Avenue yesterday. The event was canceled last year due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but this year's parade went off with only one hitch.

Aloha Parade
a cheerful success

Crowds are treated to a procession
of colorful floats and decorations

By Leila Fujimori

Pooper scooper Sarah Strickland was pooped after making horse leis all night, but she couldn't let Molokai Princess Tiana DeLuna down yesterday.

Last year, DeLuna spent days preparing for the Aloha Festivals Floral Parade and flew to Honolulu, after assurances the event would go on, only to have it canceled the day before due to the events of Sept. 11.

Although everyone saw good reason to cancel last year's parade, the participants felt let down.

"With all the preparation we did, getting all the flowers and making all the leis, it kind of hurt," said pau rider Cheryl Cazinha, an attendant representing the island of Molokini. "Everybody sat and cried, with all the work everybody did."

The Aloha Festivals Parade was held yesterday after being canceled last year due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. There was one slight hitch in yesterday's event: After the Royal Court's float broke down in front of the HPD Waikiki substation, members were forced to walk the rest of the way to Kapiolani Park.

"I was so tired I was going to bail," Strickland said after helping DeLuna all night Friday making leis out of kukui leaves, croton and bird of paradise. But she walked the parade route anyway yesterday, collecting a box full of poop from the Molokai princess's horse.

Thousands of visitors and residents lining Kalakaua Avenue enjoyed this year's parade.

"It was excellent," said Diamond Head resident Ethel Arciero, 63, who came with her 4-year-old granddaughter Kaile Brogan. "I loved the float from the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It was spectacular."

Arciero, originally from New York, said she supported canceling last year's event.

"It's very hard to be happy when there's so much tragedy," she said. "We had a lot of friends and relatives in the World Trade Center."

"It was terrible what happened in New York City," said Lydia Roman, 63, of Kaimuki. "We had to show our respect and aloha to all the people in the world."Yesterday, Jan Brenner, director of events for Family Fun Day, recalled the day before last year's scheduled event at Kapiolani Park.

"I was standing in the middle of this park where booths were set up, water, electricity, everything," when she received word the event would not go on, she said.

"It was really sad, not only the tragedy, just the whole spirit was oppressive and sad.

"So it's wonderful to be here today in a park full of happy people," Brenner said.

The Sheraton Hotels float went down Kalakaua Avenue during the Aloha Festivals Parade.

Last year's cancellation of events affected funds for this year's events.

"When it was canceled, it put a virtual stop to our ribbons and merchandise sales," which accounts for 30 percent of total revenues, said Aloha Festivals Executive Director Janet Hyrne said.

Despite generating less in revenues from having last year's either canceled or postponed events, major sponsors Bank of Hawaii and American Express stuck by the 56-year-old Hawaii tradition of statewide cultural events, which began as Aloha Week.

This year's new sponsor Hilo Hattie's also contributed to producing and retailing 11 new items, compared with the previous line of four.

"We've had such positive support, not just from local business, but from the community itself," Hyrne said. "People are glad to see Aloha Festivals continue, more so because it was something they missed last year."

Island of Oahu pau rider Selina Unga rode down Kalakaua Avenue yesterday during the Aloha Festivals Parade.

Yesterday's parade did have one slight hitch.

The Royal Court was forced to walk a part of the parade route when their float broke down in front of the HPD Waikiki Substation.

The parade was halted for approximately 15 minutes when the crippled float began leaking a green fluid.

After the court disembarked to cheers from the crowd, they continued along the rest of the route on foot, while the float was towed by a pickup truck.

Honolulu Fire Department Engine 7 rolled onto the scene, siren wailing. Firefighters leapt from the truck and cleaned up the spill to the cheers of the crowd. The firefighters then joined the parade.

Intermittent rain showers forced, Keanu Santos, 8, left, Nuuanu Santos, 4, Puali Akiyama, 3, and Kaio Akiyama, 4, to seek shelter under a towel while watching the parade.

Hilton took the Grand Sweepstakes Award for its float decorated with four Hawaiian quilt designs all in flowers, including an intricate pattern of purple orchid on a white carnation canvas. The float was topped with American and Hawaiian flags done in red, white and blue carnations. The float will be on display at the hotel.

Floats from Sheraton Hotels Hawaii, Maryknoll Schools and Halau Lokahi Public Charter School were also awarded.

The pau unit from the island of Hawaii took first place, with Big Island's Mahana Wilcox taking the top honor for most outstanding princess. Second place went to Maui with Princess Heather DeRamos; third to Kauai with Princess Kahikulani Santos; and fourth, Oahu with Princess Selina Unga.

Maui snatched the most outstanding pooper scooper award.

Star-Bulletin photographer Richard Walker contributed to this report.

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