PHOTO UPDATE: Merrie Monarch Hoike NightApril 20, 2017, 4:41 PM HST (Updated April 21, 2017, 9:12 AM)
On Wednesday, April 19, 16 hours before the 2017 Merrie Monarch Hoike performances were scheduled to start, Sherry Kalua arrived outside the Edith Kanakaole Multipurpose Stadium.
What was she doing there at 2:45 a.m.? The 2017 Merrie Monarch Hoike doesn’t even start until 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
When asked why so early, she replied, “Because I like be first in line and I want to sit in section H in the stadium.”
Kalua has been first in line for the last five years. She started getting to the stadium early over 15 years ago, when her first son danced for Halau O Kekuhi.
The evening’s Hōʻike performances are an exhibition of hula and folk dance from around the Pacific.
The free event at the Edith Kanakaole Multi-Purpose Stadium was filled with a palpable excitement. As attendees filed in, the anticipation could be felt.
“It feels like this place is a magnet and you can feel it vibrating with aloha,” a visitor from Finland stated.
As the Royal Court entered, the crowd stood to honor the representation of the ali‘i.
The beautiful voices of the Waiakea High School Ensemble, Ka Leo Wai, filled the stadium with their renditions of the Star Spangled Banner and Hawai‘i Pono‘i.
The Merrie Monarch stage, which many hālau compare to an altar, received its first offering of the year as Halau O Kekuhi, led by Kumu Nalani Kanakaole, presented the first performance.
The crowd was enthralled.
All the way from Mexico, Na Ohana Kahikilaulani O Mexico, under the direction of Aida Araceli Garcia Cruz, Brenda Marissa Morales Arzate and Esperanza Rosalinda Paredes Hernandez, brought to Hilo the dances and vibrant colors of their country, featuring both upbeat and traditional religious numbers.
San Francisco’s Parangal Dance Company presented traditional dances from the Tagalog people of the Philipines. Dances included amazing feats—women standing on a stack of white plates; a woman balancing several pottery vases on her head.
Coming from the West Side of Hawai‘i Island to make their first appearance ever on the Merrie Monarch stage, Halau Kala‘akeakauikawekiu, under the direction of Aloha Victor, paid tribute to Kona.
Lance Duyao said it perfectly in his Facebook post: “And so the stories were told. Costuming. Grooming. Vignettes. Narrations. Musicians. All top-notch. That is how you own ho‘ike. Kona, you were in the house and definitely represented!”
Find all of the night’s performances on KAPA Radio’s Facebook page.
MERRIE MONARCH SCHEDULE, APRIL 21–22
Friday, April 21, 6 p.m.
Group Hula Kahiko
Hālau hula perform ancient style dances.
Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium
Saturday, April 22, 10:30 a.m.
Merrie Monarch Royal Parade
One of the festival’s most entertaining and fun events for the entire family, the parade begins and ends at Pauahi Street and winds through downtown Hilo (Kilauea Avenue, Keawe Street, Waiānuenue Avenue, Kamehameha Avenue).
Saturday, April 22, 6 p.m.
Group Hula ʻAuana & Awards
Hālau hula perform modern style dances with an awards presentation for all group winners.
Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium