Freestyle: Aloha from Lei Day in Waikiki
BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / firstname.lastname@example.org
Some days, I really feel lucky to live in Hawaii. It doesn’t hurt to spend the day in Waikiki listening to Hawaiian music, watching hula and breathing in the fragrances of plumeria, ginger and tuberose — and that’s how I spent my May Day, also known as Lei Day in Hawaii.
The day hit a peak with a mini-concert by Anuhea on the beach in front of the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. It was part of a second annual “May Day Waikiki: Waikiki Beach Boys, Memories and Music” event sponsored by Waikiki businesses and the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Last year, the Royal Hawaiian was the primary host with a concert by Na Leo. This year, Outrigger joined in the fun, moving the stage more toward Diamond Head and opening up more sand for the audience. While it was a sunny day, breezes and an occasional gust of rain kept things from getting too hot, and there was plenty of aloha to go around.
Lei were everywhere, and a kid gave Anuhea one during her performance. Cute.
Anuhea was in fine voice, mixing up pop and upbeat reggae, including covers of “Groove is in the Heart” and “Sweet Thing” — especially nice, since song originator Chaka Khan is on her way to Hawaii.
It was sweet to see the keiki of Ka Hale I O Kahala perform on the beach.
Honolulu celebrated Lei Day with a day of events on and around the Kapiolani Park Bandstand, where hula complemented a day of Hawaiian music, featuring Melveen Leed, Mark Yamanaka and others. I spent late Friday morning at the park before heading over to the afternoon concert.
Both events were colorful and gracious.
Keeping it old school, Ambassador of Aloha Danny Kaleikini performed at the oceanside event, and with so many Waikiki appearances under his belt, the event was a tribute to him as well as to the watermen and women of Waikiki. He brought Cathy Foy on stage for hula and song, and the two sang together on “Hawaiian Wedding Song.”
Beach boys Alex Apo and Richard Kapela Kauo were singled out for tribute this year. Waikiki’s watermen, with their knowledge of the ocean and aloha for tourists, can be a bridge between Hawaiian culture and visitors. It’s good to see these athletes and ambassadors recognized.
It was a colorful day! Over at Kapiolani Park, I had to laugh at the poor poi dog whose master dressed the pet in a grass skirt, coconut bra and lei. The canine was pretty patient, considering.
For more photos from Kapiolani Park and Waikiki beach, including a glorious sunset, check my Twitter feed. As it was meant to, the day reminded me that Oahu has much beauty to offer, if take the time to appreciate our surroundings, and share our gifts.
Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter.