Hawaii’s Aloha Festivals’ Floral Parade
Here are some of the numbers: 13 floats. 14 marching bands. 27 vintage cars. 3 trolleys. 1 royal court. 1 private mounted unit. And an uncountable number of flowers. All this and about 4,000 other parade participants was about to converge on Waikiki’s Kalākaua Avenue, where I’d snagged a curbside seat in the bright morning sun. I’d just come from the pre-parade preparations, which I described in my last blog entry, and was eager to see everything come together.
Since 1947, the Aloha Festivals have been taking place in Hawaii in one form or another, celebrating Hawaiian culture and traditions–including music, dance, cuisine, and art–from each of Hawaii’s main islands. Events take place throughout the month of September, which is a great time to visit for shoulder-season prices, sunny swimming weather, and less crowds around the hotel pool.
All the previous night, workers had been putting the final flower touches on the floats by hand, using staples, rubber cement, and sweat equity. I watched volunteers decorate the floats in patterns using everything from seed pods and banana leaves to pinto beans and nuts. All float decoration materials had to be organic, and all had to come from the islands. Now that everything was in place, it was their time for their moment in the sun.
All the work that goes into putting on the Festivals is volunteer-driven, and, after witnessing the float creation firsthand, it is clear that there is just a huge amount of heart that goes into making events like the Floral Parade the best they can be.
Check out the pictures below for some of the highlights.
The Royal Court
Hula and music were a big part of the float motifs
One of the 14 marching bands
The military–so essential to Hawaii–also had a presence in the parade
Island keiki (children) were also prevalent
The organization that sponsored this sea-themed float helps at-risk island communities
Hula and dance were an integral part of the parade
And, of course, the colorful equestrian procession
Abundant aloha spirit, all around!
My name: Rachel Berg.
Favorite way to get around: By Venetian gondola during starlit high tide, gliding past decaying and slightly spooky palaces, with perhaps a bottle of prosecco placed between the gondola seat cushions.
View that took my breath away: Unable to sleep in the mystical city of Sfat in Israel, I wandered outdoors predawn and was treated to a purple-on-purple sunrise below the mountaintop that seemed to emerge feet-first through ground-level clouds.
Greatest travel lesson learned: Sunny weather isn't everything. Some of my best travel memories involve go-karting through a deluge turned mud-fest in Mexico, drinking tea in the cold Denali tundra, and watching electric thunderstorms roll through national parks out West.
Most challenging travel moment: Getting leveled by altitude sickness in Cuzco and realizing that my body was forcing me to slow down and rest despite the fact that there was so much to do and see.
Travel ambition: To see the northern lights.