Family Fun Day celebrates Central Oahu


POSTED: Sunday, September 20, 2009

At Dole Plantation's Family Fun Day two years ago, Mike Moon's 1-year-old daughter, Mikayla, was so taken with a friendly costumed character that she latched onto his arm and wouldn't let him go.

“;The photos our family took of her holding onto him were so adorable, we used one as a Christmas card that year,”; recalled Moon, Dole Plantation's director of operations. “;It's still one of my favorite photos, and there's a part of me that will always think of her as the toddler looking up at that character with such glee on Family Fun Day.”;

The festive annual gathering started in 1998 as a Birthday Bash to celebrate the opening of the Pineapple Garden Maze (see sidebar). “;That was a great event, but we wanted to get the community involved somehow,”; Moon said. “;At the same time, Dole Plantation was evolving, so in 2007 we renamed (it) the Birthday Bash Family Fun Day to reflect our growth and broader purpose.”;

According to Moon, Family Fun Day doesn't focus on Dole Plantation; rather, it celebrates the Central Oahu community as whole. “;We invite schools and other organizations in the area to help with food booths, games, arts and crafts and other activities so they have an opportunity to earn money and promote what they do,”; he said. “;We started with just one school, Helemano Elementary, and at least seven groups now participate.”;





        » Where: Dole Plantation, 64-1550 Kamehameha Highway, Wahiawa, Oahu

» Date: Saturday


» Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


» Admission: Free; fees for food, games, tours and other activities


» Phone: 220-4981


» Web site:


» Notes: This is the only day adults and children age 4 through 12 can ride the Pineapple Express Train for $5.75 and $4.50, respectively (regular prices are $7.75 and $5.75). Family Fun Day also features buy-one-get-one-free admission to the World's Largest Maze ($6 for adults and $4 for children) and the Plantation Garden Tour ($4 for adults and $3.25 for kids). Keiki under 4 get in free when accompanied by an adult. Kamaaina will receive 15 percent off most merchandise in the Dole Plantation store.




Set for Saturday, this year's Family Fun Day will feature prize giveaways; displays chronicling the history of pineapple; demonstrations on how to choose and prepare fresh pineapple; and hula and live musical performances, including the Helemano Elementary School Ukulele Club, Kamele, a contemporary Hawaiian music trio, and Na Kupuna o Wahiawa, a hula halau comprised of seniors.

Kids can make bookmarks and bag tags or try to best their parents at golf putting or shooting baskets. Food booths will serve all kinds of tantalizing fare, including waffle dogs, kalbi plates, shave ice, cotton candy, popcorn and homemade baked goods. There also will be a station where you can dip pineapple chunks into a chocolate fountain.

DOLE PLANTATION is named after visionary entrepreneur James D. Dole, founder of Dole Food Co., which grows 3,100 acres of pineapple on the plains of Central Oahu. A Harvard University graduate, he came to Hawaii in 1899. Two years later he launched Hawaii's pineapple industry on 60 acres that he owned in Wahiawa.

Fourteen-acre Dole Plantation, which opened in 1950 as a roadside stand selling pineapples, occupies part of Dole's original homestead. In 1989 it unveiled a visitor center and a “;Pineapple Experience”; showcasing the history and impact of the king of fruit in Hawaii. It completed an $8 million expansion and renovation in 2006, and now it draws more than 1 million visitors each year.

“;Most local kids don't have the opportunity to learn about agriculture, which is what brought many of our ancestors to the islands,”; Moon said. “;Dole Plantation serves that educational role. On Family Fun Day you can come and enjoy everything we offer, eat great food and socialize with your neighbors, friends from church and Waialua High School classmates whom you haven't seen in years. Visitors who come that day will get a bigger, better taste of local culture than they will on any other day of their Hawaii vacation.”;


Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based freelance writer whose travel features for the Star-Bulletin have won multiple Society of American Travel Writers awards.





        » Pineapple Garden Maze: The Pineapple Garden Maze measures more than 3 acres and was named the “;World's Largest Maze”; by Guinness World Records last year. It features 14,000 plants, including hibiscus, heliconia and, of course, pineapple. Made of croton and agapanthus, the maze's center is shaped like a huge pineapple.

Adventurers search for eight stations on the 2.46-mile path. They must find all the stations, stencil each one's symbol on their maze cards and return to the entrance. Those who complete the maze in the shortest time win a prize and have their names recorded on a sign at the entrance. The fastest times have been about seven minutes; the average is 45 minutes to one hour.


» Pineapple Express Train Tour: On this 2-mile, 20-minute tour, you'll see lychee, banana, mango, papaya, cacao and coffee orchards, in addition to magnificent views of the Koolau and Waianae mountain ranges. The train chugs along at a leisurely cruising speed of 8 miles per hour.


» Plantation Garden Tour: Visitors wander through eight “;mini gardens”; of fruits, vegetables, native Hawaiian plants and tropical flora. Attractive storyboards provide information about each area: Life on the Plantation, Native Species Garden, Irrigation, Bromeliad Garden, North Shore Agriculture, Ti Leaf Garden, Lei Garden and Hibiscus Garden. If the weather permits, you might be able to plant a pineapple.


» Pineapple Display Garden: Get close-up looks at more than 20 kinds of pineapple from all over the world, including Taiwan, Thailand, Brazil, South Africa and the Philippines. The Pineapple Growth Stages Display illustrates how a pineapple plant develops in the 20 months that pass from planting to picking.