Navy attends Merrie Monarch Festival

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Story and photos by Ensign Britney Duesler Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

The U.S. Pacific Fleet Band gathered with Capt. James Jenks, chief of staff of Navy Region Hawaii, and his wife, Catherine, to march in the 54th annual Merrie Monarch Festival Parade, April 22.

Throughout the course of the parade, which wound through downtown Hilo, the band performed Anchors Aweigh and Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean. The band concluded with a performance for the Merrie Monarch Royal Court.

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“I was impressed by the warm hospitality of the local crowds. The band was impressed by the reaction from Hilo when we played Anchors Aweigh,” said Lt. Kelly Cartwright, band director for the Pacific Fleet Band.

Parade attendees sang along as the band played, and many people waved flags and shouted “Go Navy!” as the group in crisp white uniforms passed by.

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Members of the Pacific Fleet Band arrived in Hilo earlier in the week to perform with local school bands, reinforce STEM education and provide community outreach.

About half of the band performing during the parade had never been to the Merrie Monarch Festival before. Musician 2nd Class Christopher Bettler, a Richmond, Kentucky native reported to Hawaii only a month prior to the festival.

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“I really appreciate all the people who came out for the parade. The diversity of the culture here is really amazing, and it’s an honor to perform in front of that, and at such a big event,” Bettler said.

Following the parade, the Pacific Fleet Band and Capt. Jenks and his wife attended a luncheon sponsored by the Hilo Council Navy League at Arnott’s Lodge in Hilo.

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The Navy League presented a plaque and certificate of appreciation to both Navy Region Hawaii and the Pacific Fleet Band for their involvement in the Merrie Monarch Festival.

“We’re here because of our commitment to community relations and the culture in Hawaii,” Capt. Jenks said at the luncheon.

Jenks and his wife also attended the Merrie Monarch Festival ancient Hula Kahiko and modern Hula ‘Auana competitions April 21 and 22.

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Hosting the luncheon was Australia native Doug Arnott, owner of Arnott’s Lodge and member of the Hilo Council Navy League.

Also present at the luncheon were members of the Hilo Council, including President Neal Herbert and Vice President David DeLuz.

For more information on the Pacific Fleet Band, visit www.cpf.navy.mil/band. For more information on the Merrie Monarch Festival, visit www.merriemonarch.com

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Category: Life & Leisure