Pearl City’s Marching Band Takes Aloha Spirit To Chicago

More than 400,000 people crowd the streets of downtown Chicago each Thanksgiving for the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and this year the Pearl City High School Charger Marching Band was able to share Hawaii’s aloha spirit among floats and other marchers.

“Our past performances at other prestigious parades drove the invitation by the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade committee,” said Pearl City High director of bands Chad Kamei. “They know the band’s history of performing at other parades, such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and the Tournament of Roses Parade.”


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Pearl City High's Charger Marching Band performed at the McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The group immediately was selected to participate, which Kamei said is a true honor.

“Normally, a selection committee takes about three months, and we received the invitation in only a few days,” he added.

Pearl City’s marching band spent a lot of time preparing their pieces (Hawaiian War Chant and Mele Kalikimaka), but nothing could have prepared them for the cold temperatures in Illinois.

“The crowd was five to six people deep for the entire parade route,” Kamei said. “It was so exciting for the students to be performing for so many people. People were yelling ‘aloha’ throughout the parade, and a few even stopped me to mention how impressed they were with the students because they knew that these students were not used to marching in these cold temperatures.”

To add to the already cold temperature, snow fell lightly on the parade route — an added blessing for many students who had never experienced snowfall before.

“I really would like to thank our community, and the parents, administration, faculty and staff at Pearl City High School,” Kamei continued. “The students worked so hard for this event and had a wonderful time throughout the trip.

“We really were thankful for all of that during the Thanksgiving Day parade.”

Marching band students also were able to visit some of Chicago’s historical sites, such as the Field Museum of Natural History, Museum of Science and Industry, and Shedd Aquarium.