A DAY IN THE PARK

Dancing, eating, socializing at Kuhio Kalaniana’ole Park in Keaukaha

Today about 20 members of our hula halau decided to hold a practice at the park. We’ve been planning on doing this monthly and today we finally got it together to do it…thank you Patti. She arrived with her super sound system that has Bluetooth capabilities so no need for electrical outlets.  It was like having all of our favorite singing artists right there in the park with us. This was a video showing the beautiful park, the bay and some of us getting ready to dance, but some reason it uploaded as a photo. Oh well, another glitch with me and Windows 10.  Since I was dancing, I didn’t get any of us actually dancing.

The weather was perfect. It’s been incredibly hot lately. My poor trees at home are suffering, my grass is brown and crunchy. I’m sewing in my little out-building which is usually about 95 to 96 degrees. I’m thankful for my little tower fan! However, the park was perfect. It’s right at the edge of Reed’s Bay in Hilo, there was a nice tradewind blowing through the beautiful Shower trees. There was just enough shade for some of us to dance in with a few line changes so we got a break from the sun. A pop up tent protecting the incredible array of pupus–everything from fried chicken to a vegetable platter with hummus, orange/walnut scones baked fresh that morning. The children of some of the girls had a great time swimming, riding scooters, playing catch. We DANCED! Some of the songs I’m still “following” as they were taught when I was on Maui for three years, but it gave me a chance to practice a couple. Some of the songs were old favorites–Ke Aloha, Ke Akua Mana E, Holei.  Some were new favorites–Pua Kiele, Wainiha,  He U’i, Kaimana Hila. Some days are just made for dancing.

This park held a lot of memories for me as when, in 1963, I was 18, my family sailed from San Diego to Hilo and it was at Reed’s Bay that we dropped anchor. But without any facilities, after a couple of weeks, we sailed on to Honolulu. Then when I returned to live in Hilo in 1975 my husband and I helped organize the Hilo Sailing Club for Hobie Cats. After our regattas we would come over to what is now this park. At the time we had to clear a lot of the California grass, pick up litter and make a little area to have a BBQ by the beach. There was an old abandoned store or hotel that had burned down, so we cleared quite a bit of cement chunks, but had a bit of a foundation for folding chairs and the hibachis. Much has changed, but much has not. It still has a local vibe. It still welcomes families. The bay is still refreshingly cool on a hot day.

We plan on doing this monthly at many of the different parks around the Hilo area. I can’t wait!

Finally something for my Etsy shop…

Because I do so much custom work, I’ve not had a lot of extra time to work on things for the shop and my inventory is dismally low. So, this past couple of days I’ve been working on remedying that. I spent one whole day just cutting, folding, measuring and pinning so when I was ready, everything else would be ready. That really helped as the next day I discovered I had finished a couple of projects earlier than anticipated. So, I threaded my sewing machine and went to work. I am happy with the colorful results.   I love

A pa'u for an older girl...a bolder print in a vibrant royal purple

A pa’u for an older girl…a bolder print in a vibrant royal purple

sewing hula pa’u for keiki (children). Next I would like to make some aloha shirts for boys or men. And, maybe some more adult pa’u. Are we having fun yet? Yes, we are!

This skirt is meant for a 'tween or teen. I love the retro-looking print.

This skirt is meant for a ‘tween or teen. I love the retro-looking print.

This bright little pa'u is perfect for a new dancer. She certainly won't get lost in the crowd!

This bright little pa’u is perfect for a new dancer. She certainly won’t get lost in the crowd!

This little pa'u is the color of Ho'okipa Beach.

This little pa’u is the color of Ho’okipa Beach.

Merrie Monarch Hula Festival

This week is the week of the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. This is the Super Bowl of hula and those of us that practice hula look forward to it all year. This year is special–The 50th anniversary. Tickets for the three nights of  the hula competition go on sale at midnight Dec. 26th each year. They sell out by daybreak. I sent my money in at about 8:00am and didn’t obtain a ticket. I am thankful the TV coverage is so extensive.  However, it’s not the same as being there–the fragrance of plumeria, gardenia, pua kenikeni and pikaki permeates the humid air clinging to the dampness like the Hilo rain clings to the leaves. I miss seeing all the colorful mu’umu’u, the hats with beautiful intricate feather lei–lei hulu. I have always purchased scrips so I could get haupia with a slice of purple sweet potato atop. So many things about being there in person. Because this was a special anniversary, the committee brought back some of the contests from 50 years ago. There was a King Kalakaua (The Merrie Monarch) beard contest for the men and a barbershop quartet (or more) song contest…something for everyone. Craft fairs are everywhere. The parade will be tomorrow.

During the week there are performances at many many venues–at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, an up-to-date planetarium; at the Hilo Hawaiian and Naniloa hotels; at the intimate setting of Basically Books, a bookstore on Bay Front that specializes in Hawaiiana. This year the bookstore even boasted the original sign from the very first Merrie Monarch Festival. It was found in the basement of a local furniture store that was closing and was given to the bookstore.

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At Basically Books four of the state’s top entertainers performed.  In this relatively small venue it was standing room only.  Kainani Kahaunaele, Weldon Kahauoha, Cyril Pahunui and Manu Boyd graciously allowed a few of us to dance to their mele, each on a different day. For a dancer, it just doesn’t get than this. It was the highlight of my week.

Me wih Manu Boyd--a singer, dancer, kumu hula, composer, emcee

Manu Boyd and I–a singer, dancer, kumu hula, composer

Not dressed for hula, but, hey, that's Hilo

Not dressed for hula, but, hey, that’s Hilo and Cyril Pahunui didn’t care.

What fun!

What fun! With Weldon Kahauoha

Kainani Kahauanaele. The photo of the two of us showed that we were certainly not ready, so not to embarrassed either one of us, I have chosen the one of Kainani alone. This has been one of the busiest week of my year. I am still packing and cleaning, getting ready for my imminent move to Maui. I am trying to keep up with my many orders from my Etsy shop and trying to keep up with all the activities of Merrie Monarch week from the hula performances, musical concerts, the craft fairs, the amazing food available.

Beautiful singer, lovely person.

Beautiful singer, lovely person.

Tomorrow will be the Merrie Monarch parade with over 150 units. The highlight is usually the pa’u riders…women on horseback wearing the beautiful skirts of satin. Both the riders and the horses decorated with lei. Many hands and many hours go into the making of the lei. The horse’s lei is about 12 inches around.

Colorful pa'u dress and lovely lei..Na wahine holo li'o

Colorful pa’u dress and lovely lei..Na wahine holo lio

The week will soon be over, the competition will have their chosen winners (though in my eyes they are all winners). The craft fairs participants will pack up their remaining items, the bookstore, hotels, astronomy center and malls will go back to their normal schedules. And, na hula halau will  start thinking about the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival for 2014.

The Magic of Hula

Image

With my hula brothers and sisters,

Tänzer mit ʻuliʻuli beim Hula kahiko, Merrie M...

Tänzer mit ʻuliʻuli beim Hula kahiko, Merrie Monarch Festival 2003, Hilo, Hawaiʻi, USA; Pentax Z 20, Tamron Zoom AF/MF 3,8-5,6/28-200 mm aspherical (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A lei of friendship is formed,

Stringing our souls together with chant.

We sway to the rhythms of ancient voices,

Calling from beyond the veil, pulling us gently

Into a new realm of consciousness.

The cadence quickens, heartbeats match the fast paced steps; feet pound, bodies sway, skirts fly, hands relate stories of guardian spirits and long ago kings.

We relive Hawaii of old if only for a brief moment.

Such is the magic, the spirit, of hula.