Members of Oahu's Royal Court are, from left, Princess Jamie Hinahinakukahakai Ernestberg, Queen Helen Mealoha Kuoha-Torco, King Barney Kapono Isaacs and Prince Justin Kawaikapuonalani Kalilimoku.
Aloha Festivals is a family tradition for Jamie Hinahinakukahakai Ernestberg and her mother, Joanne Walton, who has been a part-time bookkeeper for the festivals for six years.
Aloha Festivals princess
will have a busy weekend
as part of the royal court
The 16-year-old KalaheoSchedule
sophomore said serving in
the festivals "feels cool"
By Keiko Kiele Akana-Gooch
Special to the Star-Bulletin
Ernestberg, a 16-year-old Kalaheo High School sophomore, will be busily making the rounds as Oahu's princess in the Aloha Festivals royal court as the annual festival goes into full swing.
Ernestberg, who worked part time last summer as an office clerk, and as a volunteer for the festivals several years earlier, will have a busy weekend. Look for her this week at the Aloha Festivals Parade beginning 8 a.m. Saturday, and at 6:20 p.m. at Sunset on the Beach on Queen's Surf Beach.
Although admittedly, Walton said, "I have a lot of ins," she had no part in her daughter's crowning. With different last names, Walton, who remarried, said festival judges didn't even know Ernestberg was her daughter.
Besides, Walton didn't want to get heat from "Mrs. Aloha Festivals" Moana Yee, who'd "give me a smack on the head" if she found out Walton had helped her daughter.
Pitted against 15 other princess contestants, Ernestberg and the other court members were chosen because of their personality, knowledge of Hawaiian history and facial resemblance, making a good family portrait. "It's not a beauty contest," Yee said. "We want to make sure that the candidates can communicate."
Even before last month's court investiture, Ernestberg was demanding respect at home, making grand entrances after school and announcing, "Your princess is home."
Yee, Oahu manager for the festivals, reminded the court members, "You only royalty when you on stage." Off stage the "alii" continued to help clean rooms and iron clothes.
But Yee does see a transformation in attitude and habits as the annual event transforms everyday civilians into royalty for a few months. After learning to be appearance-conscious in public, she said court members sometimes upgrade their stay-home attire. No more puka T-shirts. "They're more sensitive to their role," Yee said. "The part is special to them."
Ernestberg can attest to that. Being on the court "feels cool," she said.
Walton said she and her family were "on air" several weeks after Ernestberg's win, as she lives her mother's dream ... almost.
By day Jamie Ernestberg is a typical high school student, but by night and on weekends, she morphs into a princess.
"I always wanted to be a pa'u rider," said Walton, who as a youth would watch the former Aloha Week parades. "It's really nice to see my daughter be so active," she said.
With the confidence Ernestberg has gained winning the Aloha Festivals princess competition, she wants to try for Miss Teen USA next year.
At least that pageant won't require wearing centuries-old English-style dresses, like the Aloha Week Festival's kahiko dresses, which "look kinda old-fut," Ernestberg said.
Old-fashioned dress or not, learning to become a princess does have its perks. Ernestberg is looking forward to dancing the waltz at the Royal Ball Sept. 21, an honor she'll share with Oahu prince Justin Kawaikapuonalani Kalilimoku. "It's better than staying at home," she said.
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Traditional hula and chants representing each of the neighbor islands, the Royal Court and a performance by the Royal Hawaiian Band will mark the official start to this year's Aloha Festivals. The free ceremonies begin at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow on the front steps and lawn of Iolani Palace.
Tomorrow is the official
start of the celebration
Afterward, there's no need to go straight home. Instead, stay for the Downtown Ho'olaule'a, a block party with an estimated 100,000 "guests" taking in nonstop local entertainment on six stages. Acts scheduled to perform include Keahiwai, Kapena, Kalapana, Natural Vibes, Sean Na'auao and Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom.
The party starts at 6:30 p.m. and is scheduled to run to 10 p.m. along Bishop Street, from Beretania to Aloha Tower. Keep your energy up with food from any of several booths that will be set up for the event. Call 589-1771 for more information.
And, in conjunction with the festival, the 11th annual Steel Guitar Festival will run from 5 to 8:30 p.m. daily from Saturday to Sept. 21 at Halekulani's House Without a Key. It's free and no reservations are required. Call 923-2311 for more information. Other festival highlights (see more listings in tomorrow's Weekend section):
Saturday>> 55th Annual Floral Parade: Feather lei makers Marylou Kekuewa and Paulette Kahalepuna serve as this year's grand marshals for the parade that stars nine mounted pa'u units, hula halaus, marching units, clowns, Japan's Yosakoi Dancers, the Indianapolis Police Motorcycle Drill Team and more. The parade starts at 9 a.m. at Ala Moana Park's Ewa end and will proceed along Ala Moana before turning onto Kalakaua Avenue and ending between noon and 1 p.m. at Kapiolani Park.
>> Family Fun Day: At Kapiolani Park there will be patriotic entertainment, food booths and keiki activities from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. While there, take in the Honolulu International Bed Race, scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Free parking and shuttle service will be available at Kapiolani Community College from noon to 6:30 p.m.
>> "The Monarch Room Presents" Concert: Celebrate the 75th anniversary of the "Pink Palace" with a concert in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, starting at 7 p.m. Featured will be Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom, Melveen Leed, Tony Conjugacion, Ernie Cruz Jr., Marlene Sai and more. Tickets are $45 ($5 discount with Aloha Festivals ribbon). Call 931-7194.
Sept. 20>> Waikiki Ho'olaule'a: More than 250,000 people are expected to pour into Waikiki, where there will be food booths, lei vendors, craft demonstrations and 11 stages of entertainment along Kalakaua Avenue. The event will run from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Call 589-1771.
Sept. 21>> Waialua Taro Festival: Celebrate ancient Hawaiian culture and support the development and production of taro during this daylong event. Live entertainment, food booths, arts and crafts, storytelling and educational booths will also be part of the festival. Wear an Aloha Festivals ribbon and receive discounts at select booths, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Liliuokalani Church, 66-090 Kamehameha Hwy. Call 637-8269.
>> Royal Ball: Aloha Festivals Royal Courts from six islands will arrive dressed in their Victorian finest for this gala event, the finale of this year's Oahu celebration, from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Coral Ballroom. Admission. Call 589-1771 for reservations.
Click for online
calendars and events.
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