The community is invited to celebrate six decades of one of Hawaii’s special election-time traditions — the colorful biennial Grand Rally of the Democratic Party — at 5 p.m. Friday at the Mo‘oheau Park Bandstand in downtown Hilo.
Oldtimers still remember that day, 60 years ago in 1954, when the young, vibrant and hopeful Democratic Party, unable to secure the Hilo Armory for its pre-election rally, chose to move the celebration to the bandstand. The following day, Democratic Party candidates were swept into office, thus achieving the historic statewide political revolution that abruptly changed the status quo in the territory of Hawaii, which five years later became the 50th state.
In keeping with tradition, on the eve of every election since then, the bandstand has been decorated and filled with candidates, supporters and observers. This year, more than 60 Democratic hopefuls were invited to participate and face off with one another in preparation for Saturday’s primary election.
“Come join us at the bandstand. Demonstrate your support for your favorite candidates and listen to them for the last time prior to the primary,” said Hawaii County Democratic Party Chairman David Tarnas. “We have a wonderful slate of dedicated Democratic candidates running for office this year and every candidate will have an opportunity to address their supporters. An uplifting and patriotic program is planned for the evening.”
Traditional sign-waving along Kamehameha Avenue will begin at 3:30 p.m., followed by a rousing welcome to the event by Hui Okinawa Kobudo Taiko drummers at 4:45 p.m.
At 5 p.m., the event will kick off with opening greetings from Hawaii’s senior U.S. Senator, Mazie Hirono.
“Come and join the excitement and hear the final speeches from the candidates, all of whom have worked incessantly for months to gain your trust, your confidence and your vote,” said event spokesman Michael Janovsky.
For more information, call Tarnas at 987-5810.
“For the last 60 years, the Hawaii County Grand Rally has been the last major event whereby Democratic hopefuls, both incumbents and their challengers alike, are able to address their supporters prior to the primary election,” Tarnas said. “Invitations were sent out to every Hawaii Island candidate, as well as to all of the candidates for statewide office, and we have had a very good response.”
In addition to many Hawaii Island-based candidates, others intending to participate include U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, U.S. Congresswomen Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard, Gov. Neil Abercrombie and his Democratic challenger state Sen. David Ige.