May’s day for leis infused with aloha

LIHU‘E n Happy Tamanaha took four of the 15 Individual Awards in recognition of her talent as a leimaker at the Kaua‘i Museum’s Annual May Day and Lei Contest yesterday.

“It’s always May 1,” the kupuna from Alu Like Senior program said. “That’s the way it should be. This is good.”

Thus, the kupuna who had earlier “rocked the house,” as Kaua‘i Museum director Carol Lovell described, settled in the shade of a palm grove to witness the recognition of leimakers.

Tamanaha earned three awards in the categories: President’s Award for her entry that “was the most representative of Kaua‘i;” the Friends of Ginger Alexander Award for being the “Most Original Lei Maker;” and the Lyle and Grace Guslander Award for the “aloha spirit,” in the tradition of the now defunct Coco Palms Hotel.

Tamanaha received her final award from Irmalee Pomroy, herself a winner of several awards, as well as a friend of Tamanaha’s for “the most prestigious lei.”

A third place in the pink and/or red category rounded out Tamanaha’s cache of prizes.

Pomroy was the recipient of the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort and Beach Club Award for “the lei that best portrays Kaua‘i.” Pomroy also placed second in the orange and/or red category, and third in the white and/or green category to demonstrate her ability to continue to produce quality lei.

Pomroy, a former staff member of the Kaua‘i Museum, started the lei contest 26 years ago to help perpetuate the art of lei making.

Nancy Fuertes-Fuller was one of the original contestants in that first contest, and still remembers the toil involved in producing lei.

On Lei Day, Fuertes-Fuller was honored to win the “Lei of Non-Endangered Native Hawaiian or Polynesian Introduced Plant” award presented by the National Tropical Botanical Garden.

She also walked off with a second place in the blue and/or purple category, and a first place in mixed color categories.

Denise Cremer was named the winner of the County of Kaua‘i Mayor’s Award for the lei “most representative of Kaua‘i,” and the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa Award. Cremer also earned second place in the hat lei category.

Emma Chidgey was the recipient of the Aloha Beach Resort Kaua‘i Award as well as the Family Flower Farms Award for the “best orchid-themed lei.”

Kirby Guyer earned the Kaua‘i Museum Trustees Award for the “most distinguished” lei, and rounded out her individual award with a second place in the white and/or green, and a second place in the ti leaf categories.

Angela Olivas’ creation of fine ti leaf — highlighted with ti leaf rose — earned her the Mokihana Festival Award for the “most Hawaiian lei.”

Linda Pitman earned the Peace Award for her “peaceful lei.”

Dale Rosenfeld, the emcee for the ceremony, said that working with flowers is truly a peaceful experience in describing the award that was started four years ago by an anonymous donor.

“Flowers are a symbol of peace, and gazing at them and working with them can induce peaceful thoughts,” Rosenfeld said. “The award reminds us that allowing peace in our hearts, on our island, and throughout the world, we can all be one.”

Pitman also earned a first place in the blue and/or purple category.

Marina Pascua took a break from her volunteer duties at the White Elephant Sale to accept her koa paddle and akulikuli lei from Janet Lindsey from the Kaua‘i Beach Resort. The Kaua‘i Beach Resort Award recognizes Pascua’s talent as an “outstanding lei maker.” She also topped the plumeria category.

Jodi Gardner wa the recipient of the Kaua‘i Museum 26th Anniversary Award for the “most homegrown” lei.

“Over the years, we have been asking lei makers to grow their own flowers and foliage for lei,” Rosenfeld explained.

“For nearly 10 years, the Kaua‘i Museum has been speaking on behalf of the native forest on our island, seeking to protect and nurture it, while eliminating the gathering practices that disturb it.”

“The native forests are special places and belong to all of us. The time has come for all of us to change our way of thinking when it comes to gathering in the forests if it is to be left ecologically sound for future generations,” Rosenfeld said.

Gardner also topped the pink and/or red and ti leaf, and earned a third place in the blue and/or purple categories to round out her day.

Janet Kahalekomo topped the orange and/or yellow, and earned a third place in the ti leaf categories with Mary Lou Harchis taking third in the orange and/or yellow category.

Kalena Mande topped the white and/or green category, Heavenly Hakus earned second place and Elvrine Chow was the third-place winner in the mixed colors.

Nicolette Sahut was the second place winner in the plumeria, and Edmund Cummings took first and third places in the hat lei category to round out the day’s winners.

In addition to viewing the numerous lei, visitors to the May Day celebration were treated to a wide variety of local entertainment while browsing through the assortment of crafters and enjoying meals prepared by several vendors including the Kaiola Canoe Club.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) and dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com

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