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Thursday, April 15, 2004



[ MERRIE MONARCH FESTIVAL ]



art
ROD THOMPSON / RTHOMPSON@STARBULLETIN.COM
Daisy Smith will once again don her purple high heels and march in the Merrie Monarch Festival parade, something she's done since 1965.



Daisy makes Merrie

"Aloha Ambassador" Daisy Smith, 93,
is small in stature, but her personality
makes her larger than life




Time to hula

Coverage begins at 6 p.m. today through Saturday on KITV 4; online coverage available at www.thehawaiichannel.com

Tonight: Miss Aloha Hula competition
Tomorrow: Hula Kahiko
Saturday: Hula 'Auana and awards ceremony



HILO >> Daisy Smith, "Aloha Ambassador" for the Hawaii Naniloa Resort, has marched in high-heeled shoes in every Merrie Monarch Festival parade since she arrived on the Big Island in 1965.

"Miss Daisy," as she calls herself, is now 93 and plans to march again on Saturday in purple high heels when the parade -- a community affair that brings out a host of dignitaries, performers and colorful characters -- winds its way through downtown Hilo beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Although the Naniloa is the official home of the Merrie Monarch Festival and hula competition that begins today with the Miss Aloha Hula contest, and Smith has been associated with founders Dotty Thompson and George Naope from the earliest days, she has no official position with the festival. That doesn't matter in the least.

"To me, she is part of the festival," said Naope, who taught her hula decades ago. "She really helps with people and the culture."

Her friend Joyce Wubker said: "She's just very visible. Wherever there's anything going on, she's there."

She's not visible because of her size. She stands a slightly stooped 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs a shrimpish 98 pounds. It's her personality that makes her larger than life. "Hello, love," she greets people. She calls a 60-year-old acquaintance "Baby Boy."

When she met Elvis Presley in Philadelphia many years ago, she says she asked him, "How old are you, young man?"

She and The King exchanged Christmas cards for years afterward.

"She's something else!" said Wubker, who coordinates the Aloha Room at Hilo Harbor for cruise ship tourists. Smith volunteers there, as well as with the Hilo Women's Club, Hilo Hospital and numerous other organizations.

TOURISTS OFTEN line up to have pictures of themselves taken with "Miss Daisy," then send her copies from home, Wubker said. Smith has a special smile-producer for the cameras. "I don't say, 'Cheese.' I say, 'Sex,'" she said.

Smith complains a little about aches and pains that have come with the years. But she has a not-very-secret remedy, the lubricant WD-40.

Years ago, Smith's husband John, 15 years her senior, complained about suffering from arthritis. Someone got WD-40 and told him to spray it on the aching joints. Twenty minutes later he was feeling fine, and Smith had learned a new home remedy that she has used for 40 years.

She uses it about every other day, but when her supply ran out last year, she tried conventional treatment from a doctor. He stuck a needle in her knee, causing her agony. She went back to WD-40.

Merrie Monarch director Dotty Thompson and Thompson's daughter, Naniloa manager Lei Andrade, are among Smith's converts to the lubricant, though the Star-Bulletin is not recommending this particular form of self-treatment.

Born in Philadelphia, Smith didn't start out as a "personality." When she tried to join the Women's Army Corps during World War II, she was rejected. "I weighed 85 pounds and I stuttered," she said.

When she met her husband-to-be, he blurted, "Don't they feed the women in Philadelphia?"

For a while, she was a stay-at-home wife and ballooned to 148 pounds.

Eventually, the Smiths moved to the Big Island, where she worked 10 years as a cashier at the Naniloa. By the time her husband died, she was financially secure.

"I paid my house off. I paid my Pontiac off. I've got no bills," she said. "That's why I can drink my brandy at night."

But one day, former police Chief Victor Vierra saw her looking glum. Smith had seen the movie "Driving Miss Daisy" and wanted a personalized license plate reading "Miss Daisy," too many letters for a Hawaii plate.

Vierra took a pen and paper wrote a note. Thanks to him, she's easy to spot whenever she's tooling around Hilo in her blue Pontiac with the plate "MSDAZY."


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Merrie Monarch Festival


41st annual Merrie Monarch Festival

Here is the list of competitors in the 41st annual Merrie Monarch Festival Hula Competition, beginning today in Hilo's Edith Kanaka'ole Tennis Stadium with the Miss Aloha Hula contest. All are listed in the order of performance.

Miss Aloha Hula

Name Halau Kumu Hula Home
1. Cialyn Thara Kawahineikuliaikau'i Kano'eau Dance Academy Ke'ala Kukona Lahaina/Wai'ehu, Maui
Broclic Kukona-Pacheco
2. Ka'imilani Lamorena Halau Keali'i O Nalani Keali'i Ceballos Los Angeles, Calif.
3. Jadelyn Mokihana Kalaukoa Halau O Ke Anuenue Glenn Kelena Vasconcellos Hilo
4. Nicole Eleanor Moani Taylor Schmidt Ke Kai O Kahiki O'Brian Eselu 'Aiea
5. Joy Chiemi Kaholomoana Espiritu Hula Halau O Moana Moana Dudoit and Raquel Dudoit Kaunakakai, Moloka'i
6. Bianca Keopuolani Rapu Leitel Halau I Ka Wekiu Karl Veto Baker and Michael Nalanakila'ekolu Casupang Honolulu
7. Kellilynn Kanoelani Cockett Smith Halau Hula Olana Olana A'i and Howard A'i Pu'uloa
8. Natasha Lokelani Lopez Halau Mohala 'Ilima Mapuana de Silva Kailua
9. Devynne Ellysse Kum Ung Halau O Na Pua Kukui Ed Collier Kalihi/Honolulu
Leihokumainalani Sue
10. Trina Lee Kawailehua Perkins Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka Napua Greig and Kahulumealani Maluo-Huber Kula, Maui
11. Natasha Mahealani Akau Halau Na Mamo O Pu'uanahulu William "Sonny" Kahakuleilehua Haunu'u Ching Honolulu

Hula Kahiko and 'Auana

Hula Halau Kumu Hula Home
1. Halau Ke Kia'i A O Hula (kane) Kapi'olani Ha'o Honolulu
2. Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka (wahine) Napua Greig and Kahulumealani Maluo-Huber Kula, Maui
3. Kukui Malamalama O Kona (wahine) Jay Jay Ahulau Akiona Kailua-Kona, Hawai'i
4. Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka La (kane) Kaleo Trinidad Honolulu
5. Halau Keali'i O Nalani (wahine) Keali'i Ceballos Los Angeles, Calif.
6. Halau O Ke 'A'ali'i Ku Makani (wahine) Manu Boyd Kane'ohe
7. Keolalaulani Halau 'Olapa O Laka (kane) Aloha Dalire He'eia/Kane'ohe
8. Halau Hula 'O Hokulani (wahine) Hokulani De Rego Waipahu
9. Halau I Ka Wekiu (wahine) Karl Veto Baker and Michael Nalanakila'ekolu Casupang Honolulu
10. Kano'eau Dance Academy (wahine) Ke'ala Kukona Lahaina/Wai'ehu, Maui
11. Halau O Na Pua Kukui (wahine) Ed Collier Kalihi/Honolulu
12. Na Pua Me Kealoha (kane) Sissy Lilinoe Ka'io Carson, Calif.
13. Ke Kai O Kahiki (kane) * O'Brian Eselu Waianae ()
14. Na Lei O Kaholoku (wahine) Nani Lim Yap and Leialoha Amina Kohala, Hawai'i
15. Halau Na Mamo O Pu'uanahulu (wahine) William "Sonny" Kahakuleilehua Haunu'u Ching Honolulu
16. Halau Keali'i O Nalani (kane) Keali'i Ceballos Los Angeles, Calif.
17. Hula Halau O Moana (wahine) Moana Dudoit and Raquel Dudoit Kaunakakai, Moloka'i
18. Halau O Ke Anuenue (wahine) Glenn Kelena Vasconcellos Hilo
19. Halau O Na Pua Kukui (kane) Ed Collier Kalihi/Honolulu
20. Keolalaulani Halau 'Olapa O Laka (wahine) Aloha Dalire He'eia/Kane'ohe
21. Halau Mohala 'Ilima (wahine) Mapuana de Silva Ka'ohao, Kailua
22. Halau I Ka Wekiu (kane) Karl Veto Baker and Michael Nalanakila'ekolu Casupang Honolulu
23. Halau Hula 'O Kahikilaulani (wahine) Ray Fonseca Hilo
24. Halau Hula Olana (wahine) Olana A'i and Howard A'i Pu'uloa
25. Halau Na Mamo O Pu'uanahulu (kane) William "Sonny" Ching Honolulu
26. Hula Halau 'O Kamuela (wahine) Kau'i Kamana'o and Kunewa Mook Kalihi/Waimanalo

* Wahine in 'auana competition




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