As a Hilo boy, I grew up hearing stories of King Kamehameha who was born on Hawaii Island, just like me! He went on to unite the islands of Hawaii into a single kingdom and eventually got his own holiday, not like me.
In Hilo we celebrate Kamehameha Day by draping his statue at Wailoa River State Park with long strands of beautiful lei. When I moved to Oahu I learned they also celebrate this tradition at the Kamehameha statue at Aliiolani Hale in downtown Honolulu.
This year I attended the lei draping ceremony at Aliiolani Hale to experience it firsthand.
Crowds gathered around the statue for the ceremony. I’m glad I got there early to get a good spot.
Firefighters placed plumeria lei, sewn by the ladies of Ahahui Kaahumanu, onto the statue. I was more than 30 feet away and the smell was still strong.
A kahu blessed the statue and the ceremony after the last plumeria lei was draped.
Individual groups approached with lei and other offerings. Some of the lei were so long that it took up to six people to carry them!
Did you know the City and County of Honolulu only recently started presenting lei at the ceremonies? It was Mayor Kirk Caldwell who first encouraged the city and county to do so.
It took a little more than two hours to drape all the lei. Stop by Aliiolani Hale and check it out for yourself!