Eia mai mākou ma Hilo kaona, kahi hoʻokahi i hiki ai ke hoʻokipa i nā kini a lehu a mālama i ka hoʻolauleʻa kaulana a puni ka honua ʻo ka Mele Manaka, a keu aku i kēia piha makahiki kanalima.
Mai ka hoʻokūkū ʻumiʻumi, a i ka poni alo aliʻi ʻana, a pēia pū ka paikau a me ka hoʻokūkū ponoʻī, e hoʻokipa hāmama maoli ana nō ko Hilo i nā hoakipa he mau kaukani e hōʻea mai ana, ma ke ʻano e hiki ai i ko Hilo kaona wale nō.
“Ua hoʻomaka kēia hoʻolauleʻa me ke ʻano haʻahaʻa ma ke kaona liʻiliʻi o Hilo,” wahi a ʻanakē Luana Kawelu, ʻo ia ka Pelekikena o ka Mele Manaka. “A ʻo ka manaʻo lana, ʻo ia hoʻi ka mālama ʻana i kēia ʻano haʻahaʻa ma Hilo, ʻaʻole pono e mālama ʻia ma kekahi wahi i ʻoi aku ka nui.”
ʻO ka hoʻolaukaʻi a mālama i ka hoʻokūkū hula kaulana loa a puni ka honua, he hana ia e pono ai ke kōkua o ko ke kaiāulu a pau ma nā ʻano hana like ʻole… ʻo kekahi mea koʻikoʻi… ʻo ia ke kiaʻi.
“Ua ʻike ʻo Aunty Dotty Thompson i ka nui a lehu o ka poʻe e hōʻea mai ana i kēia hoʻolauleʻa nei a ua hoʻoholo ʻo ia e mālama ʻia ka pupule o ka poʻe ma o nā kiaʻi,” wahi a Donald Medeiros, ka Pelekikena o Koa Puna. “A no laila, ua noi ʻia mākou e lilo he mau kiaʻi ma ka Mele Manaka ʻoiai holo mokokaikala mākou ua kūpono paha ko mākou lawena no kēia kuleana o ke kiaʻi.”
A ʻo kekahi mea koʻikoʻi no nā ʻano hoʻolauleʻa a pāʻina like ʻole, ʻo ia hoʻi ka mea ʻai i hoʻomākaukau ʻia me ke aloha nui e kuʻu ʻohana, ʻo nā Kūaliʻi. E hele kākou e ʻiki i kā lākou hana.
“ʻO kēia ka piha makahiki ʻumikumamālua o ko mākou hoʻomākaukau mea ʻai ʻana no ka Mele Manaka,” wahi a Andrew Kūaliʻi, ke Alakaʻi hoʻi o ka ʻOhana Kūaliʻi. “A ua hoʻoholo mākou e kuke i ka iʻo drum rib, ʻo ia kekahi mea ʻai kūikawā no kēia makahiki kūikawā.”
ʻO kekahi mea e pono ai ka hoʻolauleʻa, ʻo ia ke mele!
A wahi a ʻanakala Richard “Piggy” Kaleohano, ʻo ia kona kuleana no ka hoʻoholomua kūpono ʻana i kēia hoʻolauleʻa nei. “Inā ʻaʻohe mele, ʻaʻohe hula.”
A ke nui ka ʻai me ka inu me nā hola lōʻihi o ka leʻaleʻa, mea nui nō nā lua
“Ua kākoʻo mākou i ka Mele Manaka he kanakolukumamāwalu mau makahiki,” wahi a ko Hawaiʻi John’s. “Ua hoʻolālani ʻia ko mākou mau lua i hope o nā lumi hoʻololi lole.”
Mai ka hale Kanakaʻole a i Hilo kaona, nui ka pīhoihoi i ka hōʻea hou mai o kēia wā, keu aku ma kēia ʻano hale kūʻai kūikawā nō.
“Ua hoʻonaninani mākou i ka puka aniani me kēia kapa kuiki hae Hawaiʻi no kēia manawa kūikawā.” wahi a Keʻehu Faridi no Hana Hou. “ʻAʻole ʻo mākou wale nō, nui nā halekūʻai i hana kekahi no ka mea, alu ka poʻe ma Hilo no ka Mele Manaka.”
A i mea e laha hou aku ai kēia aloha o ko Hilo iā ʻoukou pākahi a pau e nānā mai ana ma o ʻŌiwi TV, enānea mai i nā moʻolelo e pili ana i ka piha makahiki kanalima o ka Mele Manaka ma ʻŌiwi TV nei. Aloha.
Hilo Hawaiʻi. The only place that can host the world-reknowned Merrie Monarch Festival and its the 50th anniversary at that!
From the beard contest and coronation, to the parade and competition itself, Hilo, has pulled out all the stops to host thousands of visitors, in its own home-town way.
“I feel this festival started humbly, and we want to keep it that way,” says aunty Luana Kawelu, President of the Merrie Monarch Festival. “Stay small, we don’t need to take it to any other place, to Oʻahu because they have more hotels or anything.”
Hosting the super bowl of hula in a small town requires everyone’s kōkua, starting with keeping everyone in line.
“Aunty Dotty Thompson first realized that there had to be some kind of control with the amount of people,” says Donald Medeiros, who is President of Koa Puna Motorcycle Club. “And with riding motorcycles and stuff like that, you know, you kind of develop an attitude or a macho type of image and with that, at the time, they probably thought it was a good way to get control.”
Another key component to any celebration? Food! Made by my own ʻohana, the Kūaliʻi’s. Let’s go cehck it out.
“This year is our twelve years,” says Andrew Kūaliʻi, Leader of Kūaliʻi ʻOhana. We brought back some new dishes this year, like the drum ribs, drum stake, and that’s one of our specialties.”
Next ingredient for fun? Music!
And uncle Richard “Piggy” Kaleohano says that that is how he contributes to the Merrie Monarch. “Now that the hālau’s are sticklers for their performances, so (if) they cannot hear, they cannot dance.”
With all this food and fun, bathroom breaks are a must.
“I started with Merrie Monarch I would say about 38 years ago,” says Hilo John’s previous owner, Pali A. K. Grace, who passed down the company and kuleana to her daughter and grandson. “We used to line up the toilets in the back of the dressing rooms.”
From the stadium to downtown, Hilo is a buzz with activity, especially local shops.
“We decorated our window with a Hawaiian flag quilt suitable for this occasion,” says Keʻehu Faridi of Hana Hou. “And we aren’t the only store that did so because everyone comes together in Hilo for Merrie Monarch.”
Stay tuned for more from the 50th year of the Merrie Monarch Festival here on ʻŌiwi TV.