Aloha Festivals to Offer More Than 300 Events in Sept., Oct.

Reed Travel Features

HONOLULU -- The annual Aloha Festivals, held throughout the islands, will present more than 300 events during September and October.

Last year's celebration was immersed in nostalgia, with the theme, "Hali a Aloha: Treasured Memories," reflecting the festivals' 50-year his-tory. This year's event will recognize the volunteers.The theme is "E Ala, E Kokua: Arise and Lend Support."

With a full- and part-time staff of 10, Aloha Festivals has more than 30,000 unpaid volunteers involved in the events. "The 1997 theme is a celebration of volunteerism and recognition of the value of volunteers," Jeffrey Bell, Bishop Museum senior vice president and this year's festival president, said. "It honors those who have given the most valuable gift of all, their time."

In addition, this fall marks the 50th anniversary of the Floral Parade in Waikiki, planned for Sept. 13.

The first Aloha Festivals, called Aloha Week at the time, was held in 1946. The first parade took place the following year. Aloha Week gradually has expanded from a week to two months in duration. The name was changed to Aloha Festivals in 1991. The weeklong celebration was started by Honolulu's JC-Old Timers as a way to attract visitors to Waikiki in the slow fall season and to help preserve Hawaii's culture. Traditionally, the fall was the Makahiki period, celebrating the harvest with dance, music and feasting.

Aloha Festivals is Hawaii's largest such event. Official dates of the festivals on each island are the following: Oahu, Sept. 12 to 21. Kauai, Oct. 10 to 19. Molokai, Sept. 28 to Oct. 12. Big Island, Sept. 19 to 28. Maui, Oct. 3 to 12. Lanai, Oct. 17 to 26.

The islands also have events that fall outside the official festival dates. Some islands hold the investiture of Royal Courts for the celebration prior to the festivals. Dates of investitures, some of which have already occurred, are as follows: Oahu, at Honolulu Hale (city hall), Aug. 7; Big Island, in Volcanoes National Park, Aug. 23; Lanai, in Lanai City, Oct. 17; Kauai, at Polinhu Heiau, Aug. 10; Molokai, at Kaunakakai, June 20, and Maui, Pihana Heiau, Sept. 20.

Financial backing for the festivals is raised through the sale of Aloha Festivals ribbons and merchandise, an appropriation from the state Legislature and from corporate and private donations. Most events are free. Admission to other events is with a $5 ribbon, which can be purchased at local retail outlets.

For more information, in-cluding the latest events listing, agents can contact Aloha Festivals at (800) 852-7690; fax (808) 545-1770, or e-mail [email protected]

The Web address for the event is http://vhawaii.com/alohafestivals.

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