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Aloha Festivals back in person on Oʻahu with live entertainment, a parade and hoʻolauleʻa

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Aloha Festivals
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HPR
Royal Court investiture and opening ceremony of the 2019 Aloha Festivals

Sam Shenkus and Monte McComber have helped to plan and run the Aloha Festivals for many years as volunteer board members. They have also participated in the event’s popular parade down Kalākaua Avenue.

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Aloha Festivals
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HPR
Aloha Festivals parade 2019

“Being in the parade, I can tell you that when I’m riding along in a car, I see families that are in the same spot under the same tree every year,” said Shenkus, who has been on the board for about 30 years. “And I’m really looking forward to seeing them again.”

The Aloha Festivals returns in person after two years of virtual events. Founded in 1946, the festival began as Aloha Week, a cultural celebration of Hawaiʻi’s music, dance and history.

Festivities run through September and include a parade and hoʻolauleʻa. The opening ceremony and royal court investiture kick off on Saturday, Sept. 10. All events are free and open to the public.

This year’s theme is aloha ʻāina, or love of the land.

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Aloha Festivals
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HPR
Aloha Festivals hoʻolauleʻa 2019

“It’s a term that’s been in the vernacular of Hawaiʻi for a long time,” said McComber, cultural director of the Royal Hawaiian Center. “And coming out of the pandemic and …returning really to this idea that the home that we have is special, and that we want to take care of it and then have others experience it.”

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Aloha Festivals
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HPR
Aloha Festivals parade 2019

Organizers expect more than 100,000 people to attend the events. That includes about 160 units in the parade, which begins at Ala Moana Beach Park and ends at Kapiʻolani Park.

McComber and Shenkus say they’re looking forward to being together again and seeing the generations of families who participate in the festivities.

“We’re celebrating ourselves. We’re celebrating our home. We’re celebrating our mix of cultures,” McComber said. “And we’re sharing that with the world. We’re inviting people. We’re hosting them here. And we’re looking forward just to that interaction of inviting familiar faces and inviting new faces and making new connections.”

Jayna Omaye is the culture and arts reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact her at jomaye@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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