HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Most of the main parades that marched and motored through Honolulu over the last two decades had a driving force behind them. That man was Nelson Fujio.
"It was really him that was the power behind the parade," Diane Fujio said.
She said her husband simply loved parades. He started the Electric Light Parade under Mayor Frank Fasi. He ran parades for the Aloha Festival, the Pan-Pacific celebration, and Veteran's Day, to name a few. He did it all as a volunteer.
"He just loved seeing the people's faces and their enjoyment. That was his real paycheck," Diane Fujio said.
As a young man Fujio put together halftime shows for the Hula Bowl and Pro Bowl. He orchestrated his first parade in the 1980s and never stopped. Eddie Oi was his right hand man. He said his friend had a formula.
"How to make it an interesting parade all the way through. How to intersperse the bands with the units so that there's always some music going on," Oi said.
"He was always in the moment and making sure that that parade that he's doing today was the best parade that he could do," Fujio's brother, Alton, said.
Fujio managed his family's auto body repair shop. He worked with the Boy Scouts and served with the Salvation Army. He was a husband, father and family man. Somehow he carved out time for his hobby.
"At the height, we did nine parades," his wife said. "We all said, 'That's enough!'"
That's nine parades in one year. Fujio gradually scaled back to three parades a year. The annual Honolulu City Lights parade was his favorite. It would be the last one that he would do.
"He did the parade on December 7. On December 9 I took him to the emergency room for respiratory failure," Diane said.
On Sunday, Nelson Fujio died. He was 64. Diane said her husband was a simple man with a huge heart.
"If he said, 'I'm going to help you,' he stuck through it," she said.
Fujio told his wife his last Santa float was his best. It was a fitting send off for Honolulu's "Parade Man."
A memorial service has been set for March 4 at 6 p.m. at Hosoi Garden Mortuary.