Kamehameha parade, hoolaulea Saturday

Outbreak of horse disease reduces parade entries

The Maui News

The Na Kamehameha Commemorative Pa’u Parade down Front Street in Lahaina will go on Saturday morning as scheduled but with a reduced number of horses and units due to an outbreak of a highly contagious bacterial infection.

During the final preparations for the parade and hoolaulea, an outbreak of Strangles Disease among horses on Maui was reported. The disease is caused by a bacterial infection that typically infects the upper airway and lymph nodes of the head and neck of horses, the American Association of Equine Practitioners website said. It is highly contagious and one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases worldwide.

Horses generally fully recover from the disease, the website said.

“We experienced our first confirmed case of Strangles back in September and since then, many more horses have been affected,” said Lizzie Immarino of Makawao Veterinary Clinic, in the parade news release. In an attempt to save their animals, horse owners were dissuaded from participating in the parade.

This made it difficult for riders to find horses and some units will not be participating this year, said pa’u coordinator Moanikeala Whittle Wagner.

“We totally understand how the horse owners feel, as I am one too, but it made it even hard for our riders to find horses this year,” she said.

Some horse owners, such as Christy Kajiwara Gusman, have stepped in to help fill the gap. She will be supporting four pa’u units, hers and others with high-schoolers who are active in the Hawaii Youth Livestock Association.

“It’s for the keiki,” said Gusman, a born-and-raised cowgirl from Kauai and now a Maui resident. “They’re now going full circle with their animals, from farm to table and now a cultural component.”

The parade will start at 9:45 a.m. and run from Kenui Street along Front Street to Shaw Street. Parade commentary stations will be at five locations along the parade route — the old Longhi’s, Kimo’s Maui, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Lahaina Pizza Co. and The Wharf Cinema Center.

Front Street will be closed to traffic starting at 8:30 a.m. from Kenui to Shaw streets. The road will reopen as the parade ends at about 11:30 a.m.

Pa’u riders and the islands they represent follow: Leila Kalani Larson, Oahu; Christy Ann Makanalani Kajiwara-Gusman, Niihau; Mikaela Bega, Maui; Ashley Lehuanani Branco, Hawaii island; Jadelyn Jadie Kilinoe Beauchan, Molokai; Chasity Nicole Koko, Kahoolawe; Venell Leialoha Kai, Kauai; Melani Malia Pali-Kaneakua, Lanai.

The pa’u awards ceremony is set for 12:30 p.m. at Keawaiki, or Banyan Tree Park, where the hoolaulea is being held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There will be food booths, Maui crafters, music and hula.

The free event continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The planning co-chairpeople of this year’s event are Daryl Fujiwara of Smythe Fujiwara Design, the Lahaina Hawaiian Civic Club, Melissa Sowers and Whittle-Wagner.