The Nisei Week Foundation proudly hosts its 80th summer event with free cultural activities for all ages. The Nisei Week Japanese Festival features a Grand Parade as part of its first weekend of events, which will make its way through the streets of Little Tokyo on Sunday, Aug. 14, starting at 4 p.m.
The parade will be led by Grand Marshal George Sugimoto, entrepreneur and community Leader; Parade Marshals Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, Olympic bronze medalists; and Honorary Parade Marshal Kellyn Acosta, LAFC soccer player.
The parade procession will start at Central Avenue and head west on Second Street, turning north on San Pedro Street, turning east on First Street, then turning south and ending on Central Avenue.
The Nisei Week Grand Parade will feature traditional Japanese taiko drum performers, local community groups, high schools, elected officials and representatives, and the newly crowned 2022 Nisei Week Queen and Court.
The marshals will be honored at the Nisei Week Awards Dinner on Monday, Aug. 15. For more information, visit http://niseiweek.org.
Grand Marshal George K. Sugimoto
Sugimoto was born in Parlier, Fresno County in June 1926. Living in the San Joaquin Valley in the 1920s and ’30s was a hard life for the family, who had nine children to support. His parents worked as day laborers in farming communities to make ends meet.
Sugimoto discovered an interest in aviation at a very young age. This passion motivated him to go into avionic electronics. He completed one year at Fowler High School before Executive Order 9066 incarcerated the family in the Gila Relocation Center in Arizona.
An older brother was drafted and served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Sugimoto was drafted after answering “yes, yes” to two loyalty questions and entered military service in March 1945. After completing basic training at Camp Fannin in Texas, he was sent to Korea in August 1945 to serve with the 6th Army Occupational Forces. After his honorable discharge, he returned to California.
In 1947, he attended the American Institute of Television Technology in Chicago. In 1950, he received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Later, Sugimoto completed his flight instruction and became an instrument-rated pilot. His passion for flying was fulfilled with his command of a Piper Turbo Aero aircraft for 30 years.
Sugimoto married Ruri Hirano in September 1951 in Fresno and soon after their marriage moved to Pasadena. He received his professional electrical engineer license for the State of California and began his career as an electrical engineer and at one point elevated to chief engineer. Realizing that working for others limited his creative and financial opportunities, he started his own business.
Sugimoto’s home and garage in Pasadena were the beginnings for the design and manufacture of avionic components. KGS Electronics has been in operation for over 62 years and now occupies a 50,000-square-foot space in Arcadia and a facility in Upland. KGS provides products to civil aviation, general and military aviation to Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) customers worldwide. Cessna Aircraft, EADS Airbus, Boeing Aerospace, Learjet Inc., and Robinson Helicopter are some of the many aircraft and aerospace companies that KGS serves.
Although Sugimoto is semi-retired, he is in the office almost every day. He also enjoys volunteering his time and supporting many community organizations. Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, Go For Broke National Education Center, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo Service Center, the former Keiro, Rafu Shimpo Foundation, Rob Fukuzaki’s Heads-up Youth Foundation Tournament, Aurora Foundation Tournament, Suburban Optimist Tournament, East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center, and Akimatsuri Tournament are some that benefit from his generosity.
The Sugimotos have two children, Lisa and Nathan. Lisa retired after serving 35 years with California community colleges. She is married to Don Nose and they are parents to Garrett. Nathan is the president and chief financial officer for KGS Electronics. He and wife, Christine, have three children, Lindsay, Alyssa, and Aaron.
Lisa, Nathan, and their families admire their father’s and grandfather’s resilience, courage, entrepreneurial spirit, and his enduring love and unwavering support of family and community.
Parade Marshals – Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani
The Shibutani siblings are two-time Olympic bronze medalists. They are also three-time World medalists, Four Continent champions, two-time U.S. National champions, six-time Grand Prix gold medalists, and two-time members (2014 and 2018) of the U.S. Olympic team.
They made history when they became the first figure skaters of Asian descent to win medals at the Olympic Games in ice dance. In PyeongChang, they also became the first sibling ice dance team to win two Olympic medals.
The “Shib Sibs” made their debut as authors in 2020 with the release of “Kudo Kids: The Mystery of the Masked Medalist.” The second book in their middle-grade series, “Kudo Kids: The Mystery in Manhattan,” was released in 2021. Their next literary project will be a picture book – the planned release of “Amazing: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Who Inspire Us All” is spring 2023.
They were named sports envoys for the U.S. State Department in 2017. Since then, they have traveled throughout Asia to connect with young people at goodwill events. They are also athlete ambassadors for the global organization Right to Play. In 2021, Alex was named to the LA28 Athletes’ Commission.
They are AAU Sullivan Award finalists, five-time Team USA Team of the Month winners, recipients of the Asia Society Game-Changer award, and Gold House A100 list honorees.
Honorary Parade Marshal – Kellyn Acosta
Acosta is a 26-year-old defensive midfielder who plays for the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) of Major League Soccer (MLS). He also plays on the U.S. Men’s National Team and featured on the roster that recently helped the U.S. clinch a spot in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. If he is rostered for the global tournament in November, he would be the first player of Japanese heritage to represent the U.S. in a World Cup.
Originally from Plano, Texas, Acosta is a home-grown product of the Dallas Football Club (FC) academy, where he signed with the Dallas FC first team at the age of 16 (2012), making his debut as a professional in Major League Soccer the following year. He is a two-time MLS All-Star (2016, 2017), two-time Concacaf Gold Cup champion (2017, 2021) and Concacaf Nations League champion (2021), Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion (2016) and MLS Supporters Shield winner (2016).
Acosta is known for his fashion sense and would likely be voted “best dressed” across the league. He is part Japanese, and recently had an incredible experience touring the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles with both his dad and grandmother, who was born in Japan. When he’s not on the pitch, he is busy being a father to a curious and energetic toddler, getting involved in the local community, shopping for new kicks, discovering a new wine or exploring Los Angeles. You may even find him at the nearest coffee shop enjoying a latte.
The 2022 Nisei Week Japanese Festival is a nine-day event first held in 1934 and is recognized today as one of the longest-running ethnic festivals in the U.S. This event will take place in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district from Aug. 13-21. For a calendar of events, log on to www.NiseiWeek.org, call the Nisei Week Foundation office at (213) 687-7193 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Nisei Week office is located at the JACCC, 244 S. San Pedro St., Suite 303, Los Angeles, CA 90012.