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International flavors accentuate Okinawa City Carnival

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2006-11-02

Okinawa City considers itself a cosmopolitan city, home to people from more than 40 countries.

The city, also known as Koza, welcomes them all this weekend for the Okinawa City International Carnival. The Saturday~Sunday festival atmosphere is expected to draw many thousands of visitors, and thatıs fine with the city fathers. Without question, they believe Okinawa City is the most suitable place in the world for an internationally flavored, participation-oriented event.

The carnival spreads itself across Gate 2 Street and Okinawa Kodomo-no-Kuni in Okinawa City. Saturdayıs action concentrates on a stage in Kodomo-no-Kuni beginning with childrenıs taiko performances, traditional Ryukyu arts and live performances. Sunday things happen on Gate 2 Street. Organizers predict this yearıs carnival will be ³the best yet² and promise events catering to every interest.

As with previous Okinawa City International Carnivals, there will be plenty for sports enthusiasts, including soccer, basketball, bicycle motocross (BMX), and a skateboarding event. Opening Ceremonies are set for Saturday afternoon, ahead of drama and local dance exhibitions.

Area Eisa groups will be performing across the afternoon Saturday, and all eyes will be on the Miss Hibiscus Competition. The event promises to focus not only tourism and tourists, but on the Okinawa traditions, music cultures, sports and lifestyle interests that appeal to its homogeneous community.

Airport Gate Street goes crazy Sunday with a pair of events, starting with the International Tug-of-War. Itıs a scaled down version of the rope pull thatıs put Naha City in the Guinness Book of World Records, but Okinawa City locals say theirs is just as much fun. Pre-tug of war performances will include music and karate demonstrations. The tug of war is open to all spectators, although young children should be kept clear of the rope.

The International Parade follows the tug-of-war, with more than 10,000 marchers winding their way down the blocked-off street. Parade entrants are coming from all of the 40 countries represented within the city, each displaying the distinct culture, costumes, music and dance. Marchers winding their way along the two-hour parade route come from a variety of civic groups, dance troupes and sports organizations. Eisa dance teams and martial arts teams will stop along the parade route to perform mini-concerts.

The highlight of the Sunday events is the Samba parade complete with colorful floats and plenty of feathers as participants dance down the Gate 2 Street in the best Brazilian tradition.

There will be dozens of food vendors and souvenir stands available to spectators, each offering a specialty unique to Okinawa, America or another country. Games and activities for children will be plentiful as well.

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

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