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Annual Aloha Festivals opens tonight with welcome ceremony

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Posted: Thursday, September 6, 2007 12:00 am

Aloha Festivals-Kaua‘i 2007 begins today with an opening ceremony and lu‘au at 4 p.m. at the Seaview Terrace at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa in Po‘ipu.

The event is the official welcoming ceremony for Kaua‘i’s 2007 Aloha Festivals Royal Court.

The Aloha Festivals tradition began in 1947 as Aloha Week, a public festival designed to honor Hawai‘i’s heritage through music, dance and history. The first Aloha Week was held during the fall as a modern-day makahiki, the ancient Hawaiian festival of music, dance, games and feasting. By 1974, it had expanded to a month-long slate of activities with events on six islands.

In 1991, Aloha Week was renamed Aloha Festivals to reflect this expansion.

Over the years, many renowned members of Kaua‘i’s Hawaiian community have managed Aloha Week festivities, including Melvin and Sarah Kailikea, Fred and Mary Kenison, and Victor and Ku‘ulei Punua, whose son Wallis and his wife Shana also spent time at the Aloha Festivals helm.

This year, Lyah Kealohanalani Kama-Drake is the Kaua‘i festivals manager. Like many of her predecessors, Aloha Festivals has been a family affair for Kama-Drake for several years. Her husband, Mike, and two sons have been on the royal court several times and Lyah herself served as Mo‘i Wahine in 2005.

Presiding over this year’s Royal Court is Mo‘i kane (king) Kawika Cutcher and Mo‘i wahine (queen) Shirlynn DeSilva.

Kawika Cutcher is no stranger to the Kaua‘i Aloha Festivals Royal Court as he served as mo‘i kane in 2005. “Kawika is an employee at the Princeville Hotel and volunteers his time at the schools and outreach programs around the island.” Kama-Drake states in a press release.

Shirlynn DeSilva is an employee for the Department of Education. Shirlynn volunteers her time in community programs like K-PAL, Special Olympics and with kumu hula Wallis and Shana Punua’s award-winning halau Rohotu.

This year’s theme, “Hawai‘i’s Beloved Royal Playgrounds,” remembers the royal gathering places and social events of Hawaiian ali‘i or monarchs, which are symbolic and unique to each Hawaiian island, according to its ali‘i and history.

Kama-Drake said Aloha Festivals souvenir ribbon can be purchased at the ABC Stores at the Anchor Cove Shopping Center in Lihu‘e and Kapa‘a.

The ceremony is open to the public and admission is free. Reservations and tickets for the lu‘au that follows can be purchased by calling 240-6456.

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