Maui News

Makawao Parade is Back in the Saddle for 50th Celebration

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Makawao Fourth of July Parade, 2014. Debra Lordan photo.

Makawao Fourth of July Parade, 2014. Debra Lordan photo.

By Debra Lordan

The 50th annual Makawao Fourth of July Parade is on, said its organizer, Theresa Thompson.

Makawao’s long-running paniolo parade will begin at 9 a.m. on July 4, proceeding up Baldwin Avenue to Makawao Avenue and ending at Eddie Tam Center.

Horse-riders will once again be staged at the Maui Veterans Cemetery parking lot, although Thompson had been informed last July by the state Department of Defense’s director of cemeteries that she would no longer be permitted to ready her horse unit there, saying the activity is “disrespectful to the veterans and their families.”

Thompson disagrees: The parade’s theme this year is Hoʻohano i Na Koa, or “Honoring the Warriors.”


“It is with great honor and respect that we come together to celebrate our veterans and their families with a parade on their day,” said Thompson, who has been the parade’s coordinator for 20 years. “Fourth of July commemorates the birth of our country–the country these veterans fought for and died for.”


“We are calm, quiet and very respectful at the cemetery parking lot on that morning,” Thompson continued. “We always use quite voices around horses, especially when they are already excited before the parade.”

In addition, a family has volunteered this year to ensure that the staging area is thoroughly cleaned after the parade, Thompson added.

“My family has been involved one way or another–forever,” Thompson said. “We’re a cowboy town–a historic paniolo town. That is how we roll–on horses. What’s a paniolo parade without horses?”


Theresa’s father, Charley Thompson, was the parade’s first grand marshal in 1965.

In response to the DoD’s announcement, the Makawao Cemetery Association, which formed in 1861, had filed a complaint in 2nd Circuit Court in April 2015 to halt the state’s expansion plans for the veterans’ cemetery until easement and access issues are resolved.

The area has a complex history. In 1951, MCA sold two, 2-acre lots to Maui County. One of the lots was designated “for parking and roadway purposes only” and the other “for cemetery purposes only.”

The large, open, grassy parking area that has been shared by the Makawao Cemetery Association’s community cemetery and the adjacent Makawao Veterans’ Cemetery since before World War II, accommodates about 75 vehicles.

Then, in 1984, MVC sought federal funding for improvements, which required that the state own the land. Maui County transferred the title to the state. However, in the conveyance deed to the state, the for “parking and roadway purposes only” covenant was omitted and replaced with the words “for cemetery purposes only.”

MCA was not made aware of the change, and shared use to the parking area continued. But MVC’s expansion and improvement project is now ready to proceed. Although MCA is in full support of the necessary expansion of MVC’s burial grounds into the recently acquired 10-acre parcel, the project also includes plans to significantly alter the long-shared parking area, which could reduce its capacity to just 14 stalls. The shared grassy parking areas might be completely eliminated, leaving no room for parade staging in the future.
Thompson is hopeful that mediation now ongoing between the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and MCA will be successful, and that the area will continue to be used as open community space.

However, Thompson also acknowledged that other options might be available.

“The county got permission from Haliʻimaile Pineapple Co. to use an adjacent fallow field for staging the horse unit,” said Thompson. “But moving to a muddy, uneven field would expose horses to possible injuries and lead to carefully groomed animals getting splattered with mud before beginning to make their way up the parade route.”

Thompson suggested the area could be prepared in advance to make it safer for both horses and riders.

“This paniolo parade is our heritage,” said Thompson. “We are not going to give up our Upcountry cultural traditions.”

Department of Defense May Rain on Makawao’s Paniolo Parade

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