Video by David Corrigan, Voice of Stephanie Salazar
HILO, Hawaii – The 50th anniversary of the Merrie Monarch Festival kicked off in Hilo on Easter Sunday.
Crowds packed the Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium for the traditional Ho’olaulea, which begins the week long hula celebration in honor of King David Kalakaua, who championed Hawaiian arts, music and dance.
Performing halau included Halau Na Pua ‘O Uluhaimalama, under the direction of Emery Aceret. The kumu himself even took to the floor of the Civic.
Also, the keiki of the celebrated Halau O Kekuhi, under the direction of kumu hula Kekuhi Kealiikanakaoleohaililani. The halau usually hits the stage on Hoike night, but this year they were a ho’olaulea highlite, performing kahiko and ‘auana.
Also on Sunday’s bill: Lori Lei’s Hula Studio & Waiohinu Hula Studio, led by Lori Lei Shirakawa.
The event was free and open to the public, many of whom have traveled from far and wide to be present for the popular Hilo festival.
On Sunday evening, the old Hilo Armory was dusted off and transformed into a ballroom fit for a king.
The royal court participated in the Coronation Pageant – a recreation of the original Merrie Monarch crowning event held in 1964 – and all the Alii were represented. There was song and dance – culminating in this mass hula performed by all participating halau. The pageant ended in a ballroom dance.