Festivals Celebrate Isle Culture

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.

The Aloha Festivals will kick off Sept. 4 on the Garden Isle as a monthlong celebration of the history and traditions of Hawaii.

Major events include the colorful investiture of the Royal Court, which takes place at Smith’s Tropical Garden Paradise on Sunday, Sept. 4, from 10 a.m. to noon. 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 songs and hula.

The Royal Court will lead a procession at Kapa’a First Hawaiian Church on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 10 a.m.

The festival goes to Kaua’i Marriott Hotel Sept. 12 beginning at 8 p.m. The Hawaii Alive Show with Wallis and Shana Punua will welcome the Royal Court with music, hula, Tahitian dance and fire knife dance. On Sept. 14, Smith’s Tropical Paradise Luau in Wailua hosts an Aloha Festivals event. Sept. 23 will find the Aloha Festivals celebrating at Kaua’i Beach Resort, with an evening of hula and mele. Contact the respective venues for information and reservations.

Coinciding with the Aloha Festivals will be the 27th annual Kaua’i Mokihana Festival, from Sept. 18-24 at various locations on the island. The Mokihana Festival features hula, Hawaiian and contemporary music, Hawaiian language, crafts, lectures, history and more, and supports the Malie Foundation and the Malie Scholarship.

Details on these dates are available at kauaifestivals.com, a website sponsored by Kaua’i Visitors Bureau, Hawaii Tourism Authority and County of Kaua’i.

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 through the purchase of the Aloha Festivals ribbons and donations and volunteer service is key. The ribbons are available at participating hotels and merchants and at alohafestivals.com. These sales are vital to the future of 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 them 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. On 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 events, and performing and marching in the Honolulu parade. The same holds true for Kaua’i, where many community spirited volunteers and organizations have come together to organize this annual program.

Chester Geronimo

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 participate in 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.

Chester Geronimo

Position: Houseman
Location: Outrigger at Lae Nani Resort

When a guest mistakenly locked her belongings in her room safe at the Outrigger at Lae Nani Resort, it was houseman Chester Geronimo who rode to the rescue after standard access procedures failed. The next morning, the guest made it a point to inform the management of Chester’s impressive and determined efforts.

That would be typical of Chester, a quiet and unassuming employee who is known for providing outstanding hospitality to guests, owners and co-workers using his meticulous attention to detail and willingness to tackle any task, large or small. Teamwork is second nature to Chester, as he jumps in to help room attendants if they’re having problems, doing so without being asked and without any desire for recognition.

In addition to working at the Outrigger, Chester is a courageous member of the Hawaii Army National Guard and has completed two deployments to Iraq.