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Weekend festival promotes world peace and harmony

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2005-11-04

The festival is not new, but this year’s Okinawa City International Carnival has a dynamic theme.

This weekend’s festival is dedicated to promoting harmony and peace around the world, and carnival organizers want Okinawa to be an example to the world. What makes this year’s festival even more special is that it commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa and the end of World War II.

The Saturday-Sunday events will key not only on tourism, but on lifestyles and music cultures, sports, Okinawa traditions and opportunities for international friendship. Organizers say they’ve hit upon a better system for this year’s events, which span the area from Gate 2 Street outside Kadena Air Base, to Chuo Park Avenue, and on to the Okinawa Children’s Park Future Zone and the Okinawa Zoo.

Okinawa City accentuates the fact its citizens come from 30 different countries, and all call this island ‘home’. The city, its residents and the International Carnival organizers say this will be the best festival ever, with more diverse events targeted to every interest.

Saturday’s events at Okinawa Children’s Park Future Zone are in several locations. Near the main entrance, at the parking area, there will be a soccer tournament, mini-basketball tournament, a BMX Motorcross tournament, and a skateboard tournament.

Several hundred meters away, at the Park’s Event Space, opening ceremonies launch Saturday afternoon’s festivities. Look for drama performances, several local dance exhibitions including children on stage with shishi lion dances and adults performing the ever popular dragon dance. There will be balloon flight demonstrations, opening of the festival’s decorative ball, and friendship events for children.

No festival would be complete without eisa, and the Okinawa City International Carnival is no exception. Area groups will perform throughout the afternoon, followed by the Miss Hibiscus Competition, a young musicians festival and a breakdance exhibition.

Sunday’s action at this 13th annual Okinawa City International Carnival centers around Gate 2 Street and Chuo Park. Morning activities include international friendship events and world home cooking demonstrations at Tanasan Parking Area. Look for a soccer tournament at the Okinawa City Soccer Grounds, an event that stretches through the afternoon.

Creative dances, children’s eisa, and creative eisa dance demonstrations will take place at Gate 2 in early afternoon, starting at one o’clock.

There are plenty of food vendors and souvenir stands to occupy every festival-goer, and there’s excitement for the children at various points around the expanded festival area.

The Koza Grand Procession kicks off at 3:30pm, when entertainers, Miss Hibiscus and her court, dancers and a presentation of world flags make their way along the two-hour parade route. The III Marine Expeditionary Force marching band will participate along with cheerleaders, jazz bands, street performers and dancers, ethnic dancers and specialty dancers. The parade route winds its way along Chuo Park Avenue to Route 330, then along the route to Gate 2 Street.

Early evening festival fun starts at 6pm with a samba carnival featuring 210 individuals forming 13 different groups. Their parade route begins at the Goya Intersection and the Koza Shopping Area, winding its way along Gate 2 Street.

Befitting a big celebration commemorating the 60th anniversary of peace in Okinawa, the World Tug of War takes place at Kadena’s Gate 2 beginning at 7pm. The pre-tug of war festivities will include karate demonstrations, a fife and drum band, and pop bands belting out the tunes to pump people up.

The tug of war is open to all spectators, although young children shouldn’t be allowed near the rope.

Organizers caution that streets and roadways will be subject to traffic restrictions during the weekend event. They also encourage people to park a distance away, because parking in the immediate Chuo Park and Gate 2 Street areas is very limited.

Traffic restrictions will be in place Sunday from 10am~10pm along Gate 2 Street, and from 1pm ~ 10pm at Koza Shopping Street. Chuo Park area and Route 330 will be closed from 3pm ~ 8pm in the area leading to Gate 2.

Officials say restrictions will be lifted after the parade elements pass the Route 330 and Chuo Park intersection. The Goya Bus Stop will be affected by the parade route. Organizers say bus passengers should pick up their busses in front of Kaiho Bank Koza Branch.

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