• Pa'u riders, bedecked in traditional riding wear and hand-woven lei, are a highlight of the Kamehameha Day parade.

    Pa'u riders

    Pa'u riders, bedecked in traditional riding wear and hand-woven lei, are a highlight of the Kamehameha Day parade.

  • Decorative floats ride through the streets of Waikīkī as groups around the state celebrate the legacy of King Kamehameha during the annual parade held in his honor.

    Parade

    Decorative floats ride through the streets of Waikīkī as groups around the state celebrate the legacy of King Kamehameha during the annual parade held in his honor.

  • The bronze statue of King Kamehameha, located in front of Ali'iolani Hale and across from 'Iolani Palace, is traditionally draped with lei during Kamehameha Day celebrations.

    King Kamehameha

    The bronze statue of King Kamehameha, located in front of Ali'iolani Hale and across from 'Iolani Palace, is traditionally draped with lei during Kamehameha Day celebrations.

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (June 7, 2013) -- Events leading to June 11th, the official Kamehameha Day state holiday, are underway this weekend in Honolulu.

The towering and iconic golden statute of Kamehameha I, which stands before the Hawai'i State Supreme Court, facing 'Iolani Palace, will be draped with a 26-foot lei at 3:30 p.m., today (June 7) in formal ceremonies.

'Ahahui Ka'ahumanu, a royal benevolent society, will gather near the Kamehameha statute. Dozens of lei from the society and other Hawaiian organizations will be gifted to the statute in honor of Kamehameha during the formal ceremony.

Then, the celebration of the life of Kamehameha I continues at 9 a.m., Saturday (June 8) with a spectacular parade procession featuring floats, pa'u riders and marching bands from 'Iolani Palace to Kapi'olani.

The King Kamehameha Celebration Commission was formed in 1939 under territory law to coordinate the annual celebration that coincides with Kamehameha Day, the state holiday that occurs June 11. The holiday was first declared in 1871 by Kamehameha V to honor his grandfather, Kamehameha I.

Reauthorization of the Commission was one of the first laws passed by the new state legislature in 1959 after Hawai'i was declared a state.

Celebrations take place across the state. They typically include lei draping at the statutes, which are located in Hilo, Honolulu and Washington, D.C. On all Hawai'i Islands, lei draping is followed by colorful and festive parades.

"The King Kamehameha Celebration Commission is one of the oldest commissions in the State of Hawai'i," explained Commission Chair Elmer Ka'ai. "The story and legacy of Kamehameha continues to have a profound impact on Hawai'i. His leadership is known and admired around the world. This celebration is only a humble expression to honor him."

The parades are known particularly for pa'u units. A glorious tribute to an era when riding was popular in Hawai'i, the units dress in traditional riding wear and hand weave extraordinary lei with which they adorn both the horses and riders.

Community groups raise at least $10,000 per unit in order to cover expenses.

The Saturday (June 8) parade will run through Waikīkī, and a ho'olaule'a, traditional Hawaiian celebration will take place after the parade at 'Iolani Palace. Simultaneous to the ho'olaule'a will be a traditional lu'au, held on the grounds of Kawaiaha'o Church.

Kamehameha Day is June 11. It's a state holiday.

Leilehua Summer Concert Series

The series continues at 6 p.m. today, June 7, at the Leilehua Golf Course with a performance by Nā Hōkū Hanohano award winner Nathan Aweau.

Admission is free, with food and drinks available for purchase. Programs follow:
•June 7, Nathan Aweau;
•July 13, Mike Ka'awa; and
•Aug. 10, Kawika Kahiapo.

Page last updated Mon June 10th, 2013 at 00:00