Wahiawa Veterans Day Parade another APEC cancellation

Henry Lee of the Wahiawa Lions
Henry Lee of the Wahiawa Lions
city transportation services director Wayne Yoshioka
city transportation services director Wayne Yoshioka
Brenda Reichel
Brenda Reichel

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

WAHIAWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Wahiawa Veterans Day parade has been a tradition for more than 60 years, with civilian and military units marching up California Avenue to honor those who serve, and those who gave their lives for their country.

But when the Wahiawa Lions Club applied last July for a permit to hold the parade, they ran into APEC.

"To begin with, we were pretty excited about 11/11/11," said Henry Lee of the Wahiawa Lions. "We were talking about it a long time ago. We said gee, that parade's gonna be great!"

The parade is always held on Veterans Day. But this year, organizers were told they wouldn't be able to hold it on the holiday because the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit would be happening at the same time.

"Our street user permits were saying no parades can happen because typically, all the parades will need special duty police to help conduct the parade down the roadway," said city transportation services director Wayne Yoshioka.

There won't be any police officers available for special duty on November 11.

"They're committed to APEC," said Lee. "Which is something we didn't realize it was going to be that big."

The city said it offered alternatives to the group.

"If they were to move the parade before November, or after APEC, Honolulu police would actually provide the police escort for free," Yoshioka said. "Normally, they would have to pay for the police service."

"We discussed it a little bit and decided, gee, it's just before Thanksgiving, and it's not going to be feasible, and so we decided to just can it for this year," Lee said.

The news that the parade has been cancelled isn't sitting well with some who have served or come from a military background.

"To have it displaced is one thing," said Brenda Reichel, owner of the Carats & Karats jewelry store. She served in the U.S. Army Reserve, and her father is a retired Army lieutenant colonel. "But to have it totally displaced the way it's been done is inappropriate and unacceptable to me, and definitely to the rest of my family that served in the military."

"I definitely sympathize and emphasize with these types of groups that are affected," said Tenari Ma'afala, president of SHOPO, the police officers union. "But again, this is an opportunity that we all gotta look at collectively, sacrifices that we all gotta make."

Lee, who was wounded in Vietnam, says he agrees.

"Veterans Day comes once a year," he said. "But APEC is something that comes once in a lifetime for Hawaii."

But Reichel disagrees.

"It's just a real slap in the face. It's a slap in the face to anyone who served."

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