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For one family, the Aloha Festivals royal court is a tradition shared by generations

Royal Court Investiture
Courtesy Aloha Festivals
Royal Court in the regal courtyard of the Royal Hawaiian

Since 1946, the Aloha Festivals has showcased Hawaiian culture, offering events encompassing music, dance, and history to educate and inspire an appreciation for native customs and heritage.

This year is the 75th Anniversary of Aloha Festivals, and while the major live events have been cancelled again due to the coronavirus pandemic, those involved still take immense pride in the history of the celebration.

Aloha Festivals, last year, was a shadow of itself, because of the global pandemic. The colorful statewide hoʻolaulea and parades are off again this year, but one tradition, the royal court, continues. This year's stately coronation in the regal courtyard of the Royal Hawaiian commemorates the 75th anniversary of Aloha Festivals.

Queen, or Mōʻī Wahine Eva Kuʻuipo Kahapea Hubbard, says her involvement with Aloha Festivals really began when she became a mother.

"And it started with my dad, 'Hey you need to get involved in this!' And I was, 'What, not something else!' But I'm so happy that we did."

Hubbard’s father handled special events for United Airlines, which mounted gala floats for the annual parade for Aloha Week, as it was then known.

Royal Court on the parade route
Courtesy Aloha Festivals
Royal Court on the parade route

"I can just see him drawing all the hands that needed to be there for such a special event. He had Andy Cummings, Gabby Pahinui..."

Hubbard's father was the mōʻī kāne, or Aloha Festivals king, in 1969. Her brother Wyatt was mōʻī kāne in 2008. Hubbard's sons have been kahili bearers and a konohiki, and her nephews have been conch shell blowers.

"I remember them saying, wow, this is important. And I know they are doing it for their Papa. They're doing it for their grandfather, my father, Chester Kahapea. He's been such an amazing example. I hope he looks back on this one day and says, Iʻve left a good legacy."

"And I know it will be carried on. So I think that's important for my kids to learn, what they can pass on to their children."

Courtesy Aloha Festivals

The royal court normally travels to events around the islands and on the continental U.S. Hubbard says people who work on Aloha Festivals end up learning and growing themselves.

"I really believe people would be encouraged by participating, especially in Aloha Festivals. Not just watching it, when we're active in that, it really brings healing. It does bring healing."

The 75th anniversary of Aloha Festivals will be commemorated in a televised program of stories, rare glimpses of history, plus music and dance. For details on the broadcast schedule, check alohafestivals.com.

Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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