HONOLULU - With a world of possibilities at their fingertips, origami instructor Deb Pun Discoe and willing youngsters joined together at a cultural art booth inside the Hawaii Convention Center, March 12-14, working carefully but quickly to transform colorful pieces of paper into sculptures of animals and geometric shapes.

The results were interesting and, at times, awe-inspiring. There were cranes, swans, fish, star boxes and even a 3-D flapping bird.

But the best thing about the youngsters' efforts was the noticeable gleam in their eyes after discovering what they could do with a little bit of knowledge from a foreign culture.

"I've done this for more than ten years, sharing origami at convention centers around the country," said Discoe, the owner of a paper-folding business, Aloha Origami, and one of the instructors present at the OrigamiUSA exhibit. "And you know what' Origami is still meditative, therapeutic and so much fun, especially (for kids) when they see that they can turn pieces of paper into all kinds of art."

The sharing of origami, an ancient Japanese art form, was just one of many traditions on display during the 16th annual Honolulu Festival at various sites around Honolulu, including the Hawaii Convention and Ala Moana centers, and Waikiki Beach Walk.

Thousands of kamaaina (local residents) and island visitors attended the three-day celebration of the Pacific Rim, enjoying musical and dance performances on multiple stages, while immersing themselves in a variety of cultural traditions that promoted ethnic harmony between the people of Hawaii and the Asia-Pacific region.

The festival is "a place where the spectators can actually participate in the festivities by joining hands with the kamaaina to create the festival together," explained Keiichi Tsujino, president of the Honolulu Festival Foundation.

Aside from the origami booth, youngsters fished for a yo-yo, put on decorative kimonos, enjoyed photo sessions with anime characters, and tried their luck at baseball, basketball and fortunetellers' booths.

Meanwhile, adults sampled Asian and Polynesian cuisine, bought household items like Asian-style table lamps to spruce up their abode, or participated in a good 'ol roundup for the paniolo (cowboy) at heart.

Additionally, there were numerous musical and dance performances going on at the Hawaii Convention and Ala Moana centers.

While the Charle Morimoto Families and local ukulele wiz Taimane Gardner wowed audiences at the Festival Stage, March 13, for example, the Omiya Wind Symphony and Leilani Hula Studio entertained audiences at Oahu's largest shopping center.

For some visitors, the festival also represented the perfect opportunity to escape the cold weather of their far-off lands and bask in the sunshine of the Aloha State.

"We're thankful for the weather here," said Marcella Foster, education specialist with the Alaska Native Heritage Center, whose troupe of six members - three of whom are high school students - performed a mix of traditional and contemporary native Alaskan dances for spectators at the Convention Center's Festival Stage.

"When we left Alaska, it was six degrees," she explained. "But here, it's warm and beautiful."

The Honolulu Festival Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in 2000, administers festival activities and honors the culture, customs and traditions of Asians and Pacific Islanders through community outreach and charitable efforts.A-"A?

Page last updated Fri March 19th, 2010 at 17:44