I Love a Parade
04 August 2008 | Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Shortly after arriving in Rarotonga, Michael from Travler informed all the yachts on the quay that we were invited to participate in the annual Te Maeva Nui parade. Te Maeva Nui is a week-long festival celebrating the Cook Islanders culture, traditions and most importantly their independence. The Cook Islands are self-governing in free association with New Zealand. The friendly people living here mostly Pacific Islanders but there are lots of New Zealanders living here as well. And everyone speaks English! Never underestimate the value of being able to communicate with ease.
So Michael told us that the islanders will provide us with a huge flatbed truck and driver to use for a float. He (Michael) was quite enthusiastic and had it all worked out. The theme of this year's Te Maeva Nui is based on the women of these islands so Michael and his wife Barbara decided the theme for our float would be "Yachts of Women of Courage". Uh-huh. Anyway, he and Barbara happen to have on their boat loads of grass bunting and 8 separate coconut bra and grass skirt costumes (don't ask me why... I don't really want to know). They decorated the truck with the yards of grass bunting, balloons, an inflatable dinghy and a whisker pole strung with colorful nautical flags. Their plan was to have the men from the 9 participating cruising boats dress up in the coconut bras and grass skirts. They walked in front of the float waving the national flags from the 7 different countries represented by our group. One of the guys hung from a bosun's chair dangling from the crane in front of the truck. The women and children, dressed in colorful island pareos, stood or sat on the flatbed, waving and throwing candy. Marilyn (from Tin Soldier) said it would be more representative to have the women holding potluck dishes. That cracked me up.
The parade had a huge turnout and was really quite fun. The crowd was friendly and everyone had a wonderful time. Later that evening a group of us went to an Indian restaurant for dinner. The local news was on the big-screen TV including coverage of the parade. And there we were, on TV, waving at the camera. I love a parade.