by Hilo Downtown Improvement Association
The Hilo Downtown Improvement Association and all the businesses in Downtown Hilo have worked hard to create an inviting and exciting venue for all participants and residents to celebrate the 50th year of Merrie Monarch Hula Festival.
To prepare for this auspicious anniversary, DIA volunteers and staff have been busy over the last month cleaning sidewalks and planted areas, painting the metal trash and recycle receptacles, and otherwise sprucing up the streets and access points. This crew also assisted Merrie Monarch coordinators to install 28 vertical banners commemorating the 50th year on Kamehameha Avenue. For their part, over 30 businesses are decorating their windows in honor of the festival and Hawaiian Culture creating a feast for the eyes and offering some of the best shopping ideas. Patriotic buntings of red, white and blue will dot the windows and doorways of buildings through town in the style of the 1960s, and all efforts have been made to highlight Downtown Hilo’s authentic small town atmosphere and show community pride in what is considered the best festival on Hawaii Island.
In addition to the visible visual improvements, events in Downtown during the week of Merrie Monarch promise true Aloha to all that attend. On Monday April 1 and Tuesday April 2, free live Hawaiian music, hula and culture fill Mooheau Bandstand from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. providing the perfect location for a picnic lunch with covered seating and a spectacular view of Hilo Bay. On Monday evening more Hawaiian music welcomes participants and audience members to the King Kalakaua Beard and Look Alike Contest beginning at 4:30 p.m. The beards take the stage at 5 p.m. with live music provided during the judge’s consultations before announcing the winner. Tuesday night the fun-filled Barbershop Quartet takes over the bandstand starting at 5 p.m. On April 5, businesses open late for the monthly Downtown Hilo First Friday and many are making special efforts to offer the telecast of the Friday night hula competition.
Of course on Saturday April 6 the town will be hopping for the Merrie Monarch Royal Parade and shops, galleries and restaurants welcome viewers to check out their windows and sales while waiting for and after the parade. The parade begins at 10:30 a.m. at the King Kamehameha statue on Pauahi Street and heads up to Kilauea Street which turns into Keawe Street before it heads down Waianuenue Avenue, turning on Kamehameha Avenue to head back to the statue. It can take up to two hours and Downtown Hilo offers some of the best viewing locations, especially on the covered sidewalks that offer shade and protection from rain.
A special Lava Art Gallery with giclee prints of lava by photographer Leigh Hilbert for sale as a fundraiser for the DIA will be set up at the Mooheau Bandstand on the following days and times:
- Monday 4/1 – 9am – 4:30pm
- Tuesday 4/2 – 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Wednesday 4/3 – 8:30 a.m. – 1:45p.m.
- Thursday 4/4 – 1p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Friday 4/5 – 9a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The Hilo Downtown Improvement Association, a 501 (c) 6 organization, is pleased and honored to be a small part of welcoming everyone to the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival and appreciates all the hard work of the coordinators, halau and everyone involved in creating this important Hawaiian cultural event. For more information, please call 935-9019, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.downtownhilo.com.