The Aloha Festivals and the grand finale, the Floral Parade

Hawaiian Airlines,
Governor's Award

Partners in Development, President's Award

Lucky we live Hawai'i. Not only are we blessed with the wonderful climate all year round and the beautiful beaches and mountains. We have a very special culture that is quite unique and cannot be copied by any other people or place. One of the ways that we celebrate our Hawaiian culture and cosmopolitan heritage is through the Aloha Festivals. We are excited to have the Aloha Festivals this month. It is an annual celebration that began more than 60 years ago. The Aloha Festivals is Hawai'i’s premier cultural showcase, a celebration of Hawai'i’s music, dance and history intended to preserve the unique island traditions. Festivities stretch throughout the months of August and September and on each island.

Let the Parade Begin!

The Royal Court

Aloha Festivals is a non-profit organization and is presented by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. It is funded through the donations of corporate and individual sponsors and the sale of Aloha Festivals ribbons and merchandise. The Honolulu Festival Foundation is a sponsor. Thousands of Hawai'i’s people volunteer each year so that about a million of us can enjoy the events. Some of the highlights include the Aloha Festivals Royal Court Investiture, the Opening Ceremony, the Waikiki Ho'olaule'a and the Floral Parade. The Royal Court Investiture and Opening Ceremony introduce the Royal Court that will reign over the Aloha Festivals. The Waikiki Ho'olaule'a is a block party along Kalakaua Avenue with entertainment, food and lei vendors and hula crafters. And then there is the Floral Parade that starts at Ala Moana Park and goes all the way to Kapi'olani Park via Kalakaua Avenue. The floats are decorated with beautiful Hawaiian flowers. There are colorful equestrian processions representing the islands of Hawai'i. Marching bands excite the crowds. Hula and Hawai'i’s music is showcased.

Hawaii Academy of
Recording Artists

Kumu Hula Aiu

This year’s theme is perfect. It is “HULA-Let the Story be Told.” This excerpt is taken directly from the Aloha Festivals website. It beautifully explains the theme and what it truly means:

HULA - “Let the Story be Told”

“Aloha Festivals announces its 63rd year theme, HULA – Let the Story be Told. For nearly two thousand years an oral education has been handed down from generation to generation. Woven into innumerable lines of chant was and is the history of the Hawaiian people. Through extremely practiced oratorical and memorization skills, legends, genealogies, epic battles, love stories and more have survived the passages of time.

Ka leo ola o ke aloha – The story lives through love.
– Kumu Hula Kaha'i Topolinski

Love for one another, love for our history and love for our culture fuels the desire of the Hawaiian psyche to perpetuate and protect all that is sacred. Everything exists in the word, the chant, the song, the mind and yet a physical representation makes the intangible tangible.

Hula is the expression, the visual of the chant and the story. One can tell a story without hula, but the hula cannot be presented without the song, its foundation. However, dance breathes life and beauty into an already well-maintained narrative. Join us as we share with you the essence of Hawai'i through the hula – let the story be told.”

I guess this is what we call a chicken skin moment. Hope you enjoy the festivities, if not this year, next year. E malama pono.

Here are some other highlights of the Aloha Festivals Floral Parade that was held on Saturday, September 26, 2009.

The Pa'u Riders

Melveen Leed, very talented musician...

our Pa'u Queen

Pa'u Rider

Pooper Scooper

Princess of Kaho'olawe

Princess of Ni'ihau

Our Mayor and HPD (Honolulu Police Department)

Royal Guards

The Royal Hawaiian Band, originally organized by
King David Kalakaua

Our Military

High School Marching Bands, Youth Groups, Associations

Waipahu High School

Waianae High School

Baton Group

Honolulu Boy Choir

Moanalua High School

Kamehameha High School

Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus

Concierge Association

Pageant Queens

Honolulu Festival

Aloha Festivals


Explore the world of dim sum at Panda Cuisine

One of my favorite dim sum places is Panda Cuisine located on Keeaumoku right across from Walmart. I have been going there with my family ever since my children were small. My kids love it. It’s comfort food for them even if they don’t have an ounce of Chinese in them! The food is tasty and the price is reasonable. It’s a perfect place to celebrate an occasion like Mother’s Day because you can go there even without reservations. And if it is a bit busy, you can sit on the couch in the waiting area and look at the all the pictures of celebrities, actors, singers, sports people that have experienced Panda Cuisine. It’s a nice way to kill time. Daniel, the owner, is usually there and greets you with a friendly smile. He acknowledges the fact that you’re a frequent customer, that’s a nice feeling!

Once you get seated the servers will make sure you have Chinese tea, Panda serves jasmine, and water with a little slice of lemon in it. A nice touch. Then they start coming around with their carts full of dim sum freshly steamed in their baskets. Other carts arrive displaying fried items, cold meat dishes and desserts. Pick and choose what your stomach desires. And don’t forget the mustard and hot sauce!

Dim sum literally means “touch the heart” and refers to light and small Chinese dishes served with Chinese tea. Dim sum was originally a snack and therefore only meant to touch the heart. Today it is considered a main meal in Chinese dining culture. This dining experience is called Yum cha meaning “drinking tea.” Authentic dim sum restaurants normally serve from morning to afternoon for the breakfast and lunch crowd. Small steamer baskets and plates of meat, seafood, vegetables and desserts come in carts. What is nice that you can see them and choose. Or many places have menus with pictures of each item on it. You can also order other Chinese dishes such as soup, noodles, fried rice and vegetables.

Tea time is a wonderful cultural tradition practiced by many people. Americans enjoy their coffee and black tea, the British their afternoon spot of tea, the Japanese their green tea and the Chinese all sorts of tea including jasmine, oolong and bolay. The bolay tastes a bit moldy but it is best for digestion. What is interesting is that the Chinese began serving dim sum with their tea after they realized that tea can aid in digestion.

Panda offers dim sum in three price ranges: Small is $2.75, Medium is $3.50 and Large is $4.50. Noodles, rice dishes and soups can be ordered a la carte. Our favorite small dish is the steamed cream bun. They are to die for and no matter how much dim sum we eat, there is always room for the steamed cream bun for dessert. Some of our favorite medium dishes are the steamed shrimp dumpling, the shrimp and chive dumpling and siu mai. The seafood bundle (seafood wrapped in tofu skin) and the look fun are our favorite large dishes. When ordering noodles, we go for either the Singapore noodles or the chow fun with beef, vegetables and gravy. As you can see we enjoy the steamed, healthier types of dim sum. But the fried items such as the shrimp dumpling, taro puffs, spring rolls and gyoza (potsticker) are very delicious. The mochi rice and steamed and baked buns are ono too. Meat dishes like the meatballs and spare ribs in black bean sauce are very tasty.

As you can see, I am an experienced dim sum eater. It is a great thing to do on the weekend with family and friends. The more the merrier and of course, the more variety of dim sum you can choose. Yum cha…relax and enjoy an affordable and tasty meal!

Nice and elegant decor

Cart full of steamed dim sum

Shrimp and chive dumplings, siu mai and shrimp dumplings

Singapore noodles

Fried shrimp dumplings

steamed cream buns

Steamed seafood bundle

Steamed Shanghai dumplings

Fried turnip cakes

Honolulu Festival