Welcome Back Festivals of Aloha
By Jack Kiyonaga, Community Reporter
Last Saturday, Festivals of Aloha returned to Molokai for the first time since 2019. Beneath a rising moon, the Molokai community shared in the momentous event.
True to Festivals of Aloha’s mission to “honor Native Hawaiian culture and traditions from generation to generation, as well as share them with visitors and people from the community,” all residents came out in force to enjoy the night at the Mitchell Pau`ole Center. From keiki to kupuna, attendees gathered to eat shave ice, musubi, poke, teriyaki chicken and other local favorites, as well as watch entertainment, hula and royal traditions of the past and present.
Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino was in attendance, citing the importance of this festival coming out of COVID.
“We’ve faced many challenges,” said Victorino.
Between industry pressures, the effects of climate change and COVID, the community has had to be resilient, explained Victorino.
The festival included the presentation of the Royal Court, with residents chosen to represent the mo’i kane, mo’i wahine and other members of the royal party. Virtual video production professionals produced several video presentations and sound engineers setup the sound system at the venue for the festivals. As the crowd stood, the court processed in, attended by the steady beat of a drum.
The scene was a reminder of this year’s Festival of Aloha’s theme — Ku I Ke `Aki, meaning “Stand Upon the Highest Point.” The evening’s festivities represented a return to normalcy after several years of pandemic cancellations, and a high point for Molokai coming together to celebrate its Hawaiian cultural traditions.