Honolulu Stories and Tips

Aloha Festival: Ho'olaule'a

Aloha Parade Photo, Honolulu, Oahu

It was my birthday, so the city of Honolulu went all out and had a giant party with hula dancing, parades with bands and floral floats, surfing demonstrations, a 5k race, slack key guitar competition and music everywhere!

Okay, so the real reason for the parade and festival was the Hawaiian celebration called Ho'olaule'a. It could be best described as a traditional neighborhood and community wide party in the manner of the Fourth of July or Mardi Gras. Some specific activities such as the parade, music, hula and grand picnics are a part of all Ho`olaule`a's, held in many towns in each of Hawaii’s islands. Even sparsely populated Molokai has its celebration which includes the typical parade, investiture of neighborhood ali’I, bands and ono food. The size and extent of additional festivities and attractions depend on the size of the community, the depth of the involvement and the budget potential for the spectacle. Ho`olaule`a is such a tradition for Hawaiians that it is recreated in many communities across the mainland, including Long Beach and Las Vegas !

On Oahu, Waikiki, it becomes a grand party spanning many days, even weeks, that includes every sort of Hawaiian entertainment both ancient and modern such as historical recreations, Royal Balls, cultural special events, fundraisers and good old fashioned fun. Take the bed races, for instance.

I’m not sure how this made its way into the traditional Hawaiian celebration, but apparently the wacky idea made its way from Australia and New Zealand to the UP of Michigan and attracts impressive crowds and competitors from all over. This isn’t any old bed race, this is the International Bed Race and raises a great deal of money for local charities while everyone has a ton of fun.

It was especially befitting, being my birthday and all, that the House Without a Key seaside venue at our hotel, the Halekulani was the sight for the Steel Guitar competition. Just up the street a block from our hotel and the beach, a grand parade passed along for hours as stunning floral floats, marching bands, dancers, hula girls, musclemen, the neighborhood ali’I wound their way down Kalukaua Street.

The parade will be broadcast on Thanksgiving as part of the larger Thanksgiving Day parade. Maybe if you watch, you’ll see me. I was just across from the reviewing stand taking lots of pictures and wearing a big huge smile and a birthday hat.

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