Celebrate the nation’s 236th birthday this Independence Day with an array of activities including parades, fireworks, a turtle release, rubber duckie racing and family events planned throughout West Hawaii.
The Fourth of July has been a federal U.S. holiday since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations dates to the 18th century and the American Revolution. The first official Independence Day was marked with bonfires, bells and fireworks.
Over the past 200-plus years, the celebration has grown to include a day of picnics and patriotic parades, a night of concerts and fireworks, and a reason to fly the American flag.
Here are some of the various activities, listed by date, happening around West Hawaii in celebration of our nation’s founding:
c The southern Big Island town of Naalehu will hold its third annual Independence Day Parade at 11 a.m. The parade, which features businesses, community organizations and political candidates, will proceed from Naalehu Hongwanji Mission to Naalehu Elementary School.
Before the parade, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., a free pancake breakfast will be offered at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Naalehu. After the parade, the Assembly of God church will offer free lunch and keiki activities until 3 p.m.
Paradegoers are asked to park at Naalehu Park. For more information, call Debra McIntosh at 929-9872.
c Parker School will hold its annual Independence Day Community Celebration at the Waimea Town Market.
Starting at 8:30 a.m., a variety of games and give-aways will be served up in red, white and blue style. Free popcorn and watermelon will be offered, along with face-painting for all ages. Free flags and balloons are available to keiki while supplies last, and ribbons will be awarded to winners of contests and races.
Keiki contests will kick off at 9:30 a.m. with an egg carry followed by a three-legged race at 10 a.m. and a sack: race at 10:30 a.m. A watermelon-eating contest that is open to all is slated for 11 a.m. The all-volunteer Waimea Town Market is run for the benefit of Parker School.
For more information, call 938-4540 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
c The 17th annual Kailua-Kona Independence Day Parade begins at 5:30 p.m. at Kona Community Aquatic Center, located off Kuakini Highway. It will proceed south on the highway, past West Hawaii Today to Palani Road onto Alii Drive, and then to Walua Road, just past Coconut Grove Marketplace.
This year’s theme is “always celebrate freedom.” The parade will feature six grand marshals representing the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard and the Hawaii Army National Guard. All six are combat veterans of the Vietnam war era.
Hawaii Pyrotechnics and Explosives will ignite a fireworks show over Kailua Bay around 8 p.m. or about 40 minutes after the parade concludes. The fireworks are sponsored by local businesses, donors and the county, which is providing funds from its fireworks sales fees.
For more information, visit paradesinkona.com.
c Parker Ranch will hold its 50th annual July Fourth Horse Races and Rodeo starting at 9 a.m. in Waimea.
Ribbon mugging, ranch mugging, dally team roping, poo wai u and more are planned for the event. Keiki activities include roping practice and pony rides. The three-hour event is held at the Parker Ranch Rodeo Arena.
Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the gate. Children under age 10 are free.
For more information, call 885-2323, email email@example.com or visit parkerranch.com
c Green sea turtles, ages 3 and 4, will get their first taste of freedom, dubbed “Turtle Independence Day,” at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows. The turtles will be gathered at 10:30 a.m. from the saltwater ponds, where they have been raised, paraded to the beach and released into the sea.
This annual celebration honors the honu and helps educate the public about the Hawaiian green sea turtle. There will be live entertainment, a Fourth of July barbecue and an educational display on green sea turtles.
For more information, call 885-6622, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit maunalani.com.
c Join the fun of a “Family Fourth” celebration at Queens’ MarketPlace at Waikoloa Beach Resort.
Kids’ games, rides and activities, food booths, live entertainment and nonstop fun is slated from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Coronation Pavilion and throughout the shopping center. Capping off the festivities, are fireworks to the music of Johnny Shot at the Waikoloa Bowl at Queens’ Gardens.
The fireworks and concert are free, however, there are charges for some games and activities that will benefit the Hawaii Island Food Basket.
For more information, call 886-8822 or visit QueensMarketPlace.net.
c Hawaii County Democratic Party members will gather from 2:15 to 4:30 p.m. at Old Kona Airport Park’s Makaeo Events pavilion for the 11th annual Independence Day Family Reunion Picnic.
The free event, which is open to the public, offers food, entertainment, games and prizes. An array of candidates and incumbents will be present.
For more information, email West Hawaii Democratic Party Chairman John Buckstead at email@example.com or visit hawaiicountydemocrats.org.
c The 21st annual Great Waikoloa Rubber Duckie Race begins at 3 p.m. at the Waikoloa Beach Resort’s Kings’ Shops. All proceeds benefit the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Hawaii and the Food Basket.
Adopted ducks will be tagged, placed in a giant cage suspended over the Kings’ Lake and at 3 p.m. dropped into the water. The first 50 to cross the finish line will win a share of $24,000 in prizes.
Adoption certificates are available at adoption headquarters, the Kings’ Shops management office and at the Queens’ MarketPlace management office. The ducks can also be adopted online at kingsshops.com
To purchase a duck on race day, look for the United Cerebral Palsy Association duck booth. Adopt a duck with a donation of $5 or a “quack pack” of four adoption certificates and a T-shirt for $25.
In addition to the race, the first 500 people who arrive at the event at 9:30 a.m. will receive bags filled with gifts, promotions and discounts from Kings’ Shops merchants and a commemorative rubber duckie in honor of the event. The event also features live entertainment, a watermelon eating contest, food booths and duck waddling and duck calling contests.
For more information, call 886-8811 or visit kingsshops.com.