Lei were draped over the state of King Kamehameha during the festivities on June 11, in Kapaau. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Colorfully dressed and adorned with flowers, pa’u riders participate in the annual floral parade in North Kohala during the King Kamehameha Day festivities on June 11. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Kealoha Sugiama, who was awarded Citizen of the Year by the North Kohala Merchants Association, presents a ho’okupu, or gift, during the floral parade in Kohala on June 11, for King Kamehameha Day. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Young hula dancers smile as they line up for a performance at the ho’olaulea following the King Kamehameha Day parade in Kohala on June 11. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
The pa’u queen for this year’s King Kamehameha Day festivities in North Kohala, Sandie Wong. (PHOTO COURTESY OF RENEE MORINAKA)
In his birthplace of North Hawaii, King Kamehameha Day takes on a special meaning. Streets close, and the entire community takes time to drape lei and offer ho’okupu in front of the king’s statue in Kapaau as well as to enjoy the parade and daylong celebration.
“It’s important to celebrate the day,” said Christine Dochin of Waimea. “Especially the way Kohala does it – it is hometown. To be part of it is a privilege.”
Dochin, a member of the ‘Ahahu Ka’ahumanu Society, Kohala chapter, said she is part of the presentation at the statue every year. She said she started with the society 22 years ago, and she believes it’s important to use one of her vacation days to honor the king. She said that this year, she had the opportunity to bring her granddaughter.
This year’s celebration theme was Na Pua O Kamehameha, or “The Generations of Kamehameha.” The Awini ohana was honored as direct descendants of Kamehameha. The family has lived in the area continuously since that time.
Nino Ka’ai, of Hawi, said he has been attending the parade for at least 20 years.
“It is always a really good function,” he said.
Ka’ai went to the parade and ho’olaule’a at Kamehameha Park with his family, and he said he enjoys the people and especially the food.
“We should all get together and celebrate and remember what Kamehameha means to all of us,” he said.
This year’s pa’u queen, Sandie Wong, was chosen for her paniolo skills, her longstanding community contributions, and her ancestral roots in North Kohala, according to the Kamehameha Day committee. She was first a pa’u queen in 1988 in Honolulu, and represented the island of Maui in the North Kohala Kamehameha Day celebration in 1996.
In addition to owning and operating ATV Outfitters and Kohala Ditch Adventures, in Kapaau with her husband Bill, the couple also owns Yap Ranch, where they raise several hundred cattle and many quarter horses.
The Pa’u Unit with Wong included 14 horses from the Yap Ranch, the largest Pa’u Unit ever.
After the parade, thousands of residents and visitors, made their way to the park to enjoy food, time with friends and family, and entertainment, which included hula and musicians, such as resident musician John Keawe.