It’s Aloha Festivals Time Again

Mufi Hannemann
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August 31, 2011 | Hawaiian Airlines Discount Share

People who call Hawaii home have no doubt enjoyed the Aloha Festivals. The colorful floats and pa’u riders are the stuff of island-style pageantry and festivity. What was known as Aloha Week when it was introduced in 1946 has become a cherished part of our culture and history and has preserved its standing as a major attraction for visitor and resident alike.

Marking its 65th year in 2012, the Aloha Festivals will kick off Sept. 1 as a monthlong celebration of the history and traditions of Hawaii. This year’s theme is “Mele AilaniCelebrate Island Music.”

Major events include the colorful investiture of the Royal Court, which takes place at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Sept. 1 at 3 p.m. The alii king, queen, prince and princess will take their places as they receive the royal cloak, helmet, head feather lei and other symbols of their reign, all highlighted by traditional chants and hula kahiko.

The investiture will be followed by the official opening ceremony that same day at 5:30 p.m. at the Royal Grove in Royal Hawaiian Center.

The festival goes to Leeward Oahu on Saturday, Sept. 10, as the eighth annual Keiki Ho’olaulea at Pearlridge runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The ho’olaulea will feature a variety of activities, demonstrations and continuous stage performances by keiki musical groups and hula halau, as well as an appearance by the Royal Court. Anyone wearing the Aloha Festivals ribbon may participate in the activities and ride the monorail free, as well as receive discounts from participating merchants throughout the day.

Saturday, Sept. 17, brings the excitement and party spirit as the Aloha Festivals takes to the streets of Waikiki with the much anticipated ho’olaulea, beginning at 7 p.m. on Kalakaua Avenue, between Lewers Street and Kapahulu Avenue. The turnout is always tremendous as this block party brings out the best entertainment, food and fun Hawaii has to offer.

LeeAnn Lee

The 65th annual Aloha Festivals Floral Parade caps the celebration Saturday, Sept. 24. Thousands of folks will line Kalakaua Avenue, beginning at Ala Moana Park and ending at Kapiolani Park, for a colorful equestrian procession of pa’u riders, beautiful floats adorned with Hawaiian flowers, hula halau and marching bands.

The Aloha Festivals is organized by volunteers, with funding from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, corporate and private sponsors, and sales of Aloha Festivals ribbons and merchandise.

It’s important to point out that public support is key, through the purchase of the Aloha Festivals ribbons and donations and volunteer service. The ribbons are available at participating hotels and merchants or by mail order at These sales are vital to the future of the Aloha Festivals and I urge everyone to support this worthy cause by purchasing and wearing the ribbons.

As recently as 2007, the statewide Aloha Festivals organization was more than $200,000 in the red. What enabled the festivals to continue and flourish was a massive effort by our community. Beginning in 2008, each island began organizing its own programs, while the original organization took responsibility for Oahu. The Hawaii Tourism Authority, City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association and Waikiki Improvement Association joined in with financial support. Most importantly, thousands among us joined the cause, from the board of directors, to myriad vendors, to the volunteers participating in the Royal Court, selling ribbons, producing the Waikiki Ho’olaulea, and decorating floats, cars and horses, preparing costumes, and performing and marching in the parade.

The Aloha Festivals offers us a lesson. So much of what we have and enjoy, we take for granted. Youth and high school sports, cultural groups, ethnic festivals, churches, health care institutions, charitable organizations and the hundreds of other activities we use and depend on require our support to survive and thrive.

Hawaii wouldn’t be Hawaii without the Aloha Festivals, and it behooves us to show our love for this cherished part of our heritage.

LeeAnn Lee

Position: Guest Service Agent

Location: Best Western Coconut Waikiki Hotel

LeeAnn Lee has been a guest service agent at the Best Western Coconut Waikiki Hotel for only three years, but she’s made a lasting impression on co-workers and guests.

She came to the hotel with a reputation for being highly knowledgeable and capa- ble, and has only built on that foundation. LeeAnn is recognized for her remarkable attention to detail and a work ethnic sec- ond to none. She is always willing to take on difficult projects and additional work, all the while handing conflicts and problems with patience and tact. LeeAnn regularly takes on extra shifts, changes her schedule to accommodate co-workers, or comes to work when coverage is insufficient, con- tributing to a healthy team spirit at the Best Western.

LeeAnn’s supervisor says there’s “no one who better exemplifies the personal and professional qualities that we honor” through the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association’s Na Poe Paahana award, and her co-workers would enthusiastically agree.


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