FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Angeline Tripp says she and her pa'u unit have spent more than $1,000 to prepare for the Aloha Festivals parade. Kaho'olawe Pa'u Unit members, clockwise from left, Kathleen Keliinoi Westbrook, Mapuana Leiwalo, Francis Leiwalo and Tripp were with Ambassador's Awards from previous parades at a home in Nanakuli last night.
Sponsor sought to save parade
Aloha festivals: $50,000 more needed
STORY SUMMARY »
The Aloha Festivals floral parade in Waikiki risks being suspended for the first time in 60 years because organizers have failed to find a sponsor for the annual event.
A three-year sponsorship contract with Hawaiian Airlines to run the parade -- featuring lei-draped pa'u horse riders, marching bands, floats and hula halau -- expired last year, said Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, executive board president for Aloha Festivals.
She said the nonprofit group needs about $50,000 by the end of the month to secure a full contribution of $200,000 from the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
"It seems to be the signs of our times that everyone is really conscious about where their dollars go to and how it is spent," she said.
News of the possible cancellation of the floral parade shocked Angeline Tripp, who is hoping to participate for the fourth time in the party through a pa'u unit representing the island of Kahoolawe.
She said her group has raised more than $1,000 to prepare for the march.
"We work very hard to accomplish this thing," she said. "So it's sad. We need some kokua."
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Hawaii's annual celebration of aloha is short on cash.
Call for Help
Organizers of the Aloha Festivals floral parade scheduled for Sept. 13 are seeking about $50,000 to run the event. The group says it will be forced to cancel the annual march through Waikiki unless the funds come through by June 30.
To find out how to help, the organization's executive board president, Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, may be reached at 835-3654, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
On the Net:
» Aloha Festivals: http://alohafestivals.com/v3/index.jsp
The Aloha Festivals floral parade scheduled for Sept. 13 will be canceled unless organizers find a sponsor by month's end.
And the festivals, which have become an islandwide celebration since their inception more than six decades ago, are being limited to events on Oahu for the first time this year.
The floral parade, which usually starts at 9 a.m. and runs from Ala Moana Beach Park to Kapiolani Park, going through Waikiki, features lei-draped pa'u horse riders, marching bands, floats and hula halau.
Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, executive board president for the Aloha Festivals, said the nonprofit group needs about $50,000 to secure a full contribution of $200,000 from the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
A three-year sponsorship with Hawaiian Airlines to run the floral parade ended last year, she said, and the organization has been unable to find another partner.
"With the economy going the way it is, it is just being really difficult to find people to invest that amount," Nakanelua-Richards said.
STAR-BULLETIN / SEPTEMBER 2007
The Hawaiian Airlines float carried the Aloha Festivals Royal Court, with Gerard Counselor walking beside the float, at the parade's starting point at Ala Moana Park last year. The parade continues down Kalakaua Avenue through Waikiki and ends at Kapiolani Park.
Unlike the festivals' Waikiki Ho'olaulea, which is backed by several hotels and also brings in revenue through food vendors, the floral parade "is a complete expense," she said.
Leiala Cook, pa'u equestrian chairwoman for the floral parade, said she learned about the sponsorship problem over the weekend.
"I already got my pa'u units and a lot of them have already bought their outfits, paid for their flowers, paid for their horses, and it's just a disappointment if the parade doesn't go through," she said.
The suspension of the parade would be a first for the festivals, which celebrated 60 years in 2006 and has happened every year except for after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
First conceived by Honolulu businessman Harry Nordmark in 1946, Aloha Festivals was created as Aloha Week to help preserve Hawaii's traditions.
Originally held during the makahiki season in October, it grew in 1974 to a monthlong festival that spanned the islands. The name was changed to Aloha Festivals in 1991 to reflect further expansion that now includes hundreds of events, including pageantry, parades, street parties, concerts and family activities.
In a statement, the group said this year's events include the Royal Court Investiture at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and an opening ceremony on the grounds of Iolani Palace on Sept. 12, followed by the Ho'olaulea a day later.
This is not the first time the festivals have run into a financial obstacle.
In 2004, the festivals' contracts with Bank of Hawaii and American Express expired. During their three-year commitments, the two companies saved the festivals by donating about $450,000 to make up for several years of slow sales for ribbons and merchandise.
Hawaiian Airlines stepped in to keep the festivals alive in 2004 because of the event's importance to tourism and to the carrier's corporate culture, organizers said at the time.
The festivals include about 300 events and require the support of about 6,000 to 8,000 volunteers, a paid staff and nearly $1 million in contributions, organizers have said. In 2005, events generated $500,000 in taxes and about $5.09 million in visitor spending.
Angeline Tripp of Nanakuli said her pa'u unit has raised more than $1,000 and received a $300 donation from Times Super Market to pay for horse rentals and classes, buy hats and other decoration so the group can represent the island of Kahoolawe in the floral parade.
"I think that is so sad. Not only sad but a shame. It is something that has been going on for years," she said of the possible cancellation. "I've sold shirts, I've sold brownies, I've sold butter mochi. We went to swap meet, sold some old stuff. I even sold kalua pig. We worked hard, very hard."
Tripp, 50, who participated in the parade from 1997 through 1999, said she is eager to do it a fourth time.
"Why do I go through the pain? Well, I love my culture, I love who I am and I am very proud of Hawaii. I go to perpetuate," she said. "It's a wonderful feeling."