Kaneohe Parade’s 50th March

The state’s largest community-based Christmas parade starts at 9 a.m. Saturday on Kamehameha Highway in Kaneohe, with thousands decked out in a Hawaii Five-0″ theme to mark the parade’s 50th year.

“Leaders should watch for dogs on the parade route,” advised chairwoman Kuulei Olsen Richardson, “as one year we had the miniature horses going over to Burger King.”

Road closures start at 8 a.m. so floats and marching units can assemble along Haiku Road by Windward Mall, including grand marshal Art Machado, the heart and soul of the march who’s also known as Kaneohe’s Mr. Christmas. He chaired the march for decades, starting at age 31.

“I remember climbing those trees when I was young,” said the longtime volunteer. “Now I cannot get off the ground!” Machado also has led the Kahaluu Neighborhood Board, been honored by the Kaneohe board, organized an anti-drug blitz in Kahaluu and more recently helped take over and revitalize Kailua’s ailing Pali Lanes bowling alley.

His co-grand marshal is MidWeek regional editor Carol Chang, who has written about Machado and his community since 1972, via the Ka Lama newspaper, the Windward Sun Press and now the Windward Islander, a MidWeek insert. She and her husband Nelson live in Ahuimanu Hills and have three grown children, all Castle High graduates.

Marchers include Mayor-elect Kirk Caldwell, hula halau, martial arts, drama troupes, merchants, sports teams, churches, civil clubs, schools, nonprofits and the Royal Hawaiian Band.