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Big bikes join Okinawa International Carnival

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2008-11-21

Okinawa City hosts the US Kadena Air Base, plus residents from more than 30 countries, and this weekend they’ll all be joining together for an International Carnival.

The Okinawa International Carnival kicks off its two-day run on Saturday, expanding focus on Sunday by joining forces with the Gate 2 Street Festival and its lusty throated Harley Davidson Motorcycles. The two festivals have been separate in past years, but have become allies for a very special Koza Weekend. Festivities take place at Koza Music Town, Gate 2 Street and Park Avenue, starting at noon Saturday. Music Town hosts the opening ceremonies, the Okinawa City entertainment group performance at 1 p.m., the Young People’s Festival finals at 2 p.m., and dancing and eisaa at 5 pm. The III Marine Expeditionary Force Band performs at 7:30 p.m., followed at 8:30 p.m. but the live band Pacific Trends.

On Gate 2 Street, Saturday’s action fires up at noon with street arts and performances and a P K Tournament. The Koza historical picture scroll parade, in which citizens of many countries participate wearing their native dress and perform cultural entertainment and dance from their home countries, begins at 3 p.m. The parade features dozens of entrants winding their way along Chuo Park Avenue to Route 330 then along Gate 2 Street.

The big event of the day is the International Tug-of-War at 6 p.m., a challenge for all who want to participate. It’s not quite the size of Naha’s tug-of-war, which earned the capital city a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, but Okinawa City’s darn proud of its event. Tens of thousands will turn out for the tug-of-war on the blocked off and deserted street.

You can’t miss the grand entry of dozens of Harley Davidson motorcycles on Sunday, more than 300 in all, and they’re all headed for a 2 p.m. Harley Davidson Show and parade on Gate 2 Street. The parade is followed by BMx and dance battle, live music and pro wrestling featuring university students. Fun continues at 4 p.m. with men’s and ladies’ arm wrestling tournaments. Music, dance with S.T.F. lead up to a 6 p.m. ladies Samba Parade.

Koza Music Town’s Sunday program begins at 3 p.m. with selection of Miss Okinawa City, followed by live music at 4 p.m. and the Miss Okinawa City show at 5 p.m. Various genre music fills the evening hours.

Koza Gate Street, the official name for Gate 2 Street since a name change several years ago, will be closed to traffic from noon until 9 p.m. Organizers remind visitors streets and roadways will be subject to a number of traffic restrictions during the weekend carnival, and encourage people to park a distance away, then walk to the festivities.

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