OKINAWA CITY, Okinawa — The street just outside Kadena Air Base’s Gate Two was closed Sunday afternoon as thousands of spectators and performers filled the road for the annual Okinawa International Carnival.
The festival began Saturday at the Okinawa City Children’s Park at the Zoo with a children’s taiko drum performance. Other attractions included folk dancers, singers, and bands, including the Pacific Trends — part of the Pacific Air Forces Band.
Also Saturday, both kids and cowboys came together for some friendly competition. The kids played basketball and soccer tournaments in the park, while the cowboys — both from the U.S. and Okinawa — did some bull riding.
Festivities began Sunday with a parade down the closed Gate Two Street that lasted several hours. Marchers ranged from youth sports teams to civic groups to dance troupes. Numerous martial arts and taiko drummer groups also marched, stopping at one point for a 10-minute performance. Also part of parade was a re-enactment of a procession of envoys from the Kingdom of the Ryukyus (Okinawa) to Edo (Tokyo).
Food vendors set up along the route sold everything from corn dogs and French fries to cotton candy and Okinawan fare; game booths tempted kids to try their luck.
The Okinawa City Outdoor Stage, meanwhile, rang with the sounds of an Okinawan bullfight.
The carnival was to wrap up with an international tug-of-war — a scaled-down version of the record-holding event in Naha.