Traditional May Day thrives in Po‘ipu

PO‘IPU — Troy Lazaro of the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club in Po‘ipu said he was told by his kumu hula, Doric and Momi Yaris, that May Day is always celebrated on May 1.

Lazaro was joined by the Waiohai ‘ohana of management and associates on Tuesday as they unfolded the traditional May Day celebration of lei contests, lei making instructional classes, and other activities related to May Day being Lei Day in Hawai‘i.

The traditional May Day Court featuring associates from the Waiohai and their ‘ohana, assembled to honor Aunty Stella Burgess of the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa for her work, including those of her husband and family, in perpetuating the Hawaiian culture.

“This is all about sharing,” said Lazaro, who has been doing the Waiohai May Day for about 10 years. “When the Hyatt does the Prince Kuhio celebration, guess who is over there? When we do May Day, guess who is over here?”

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. was joined by Kaua‘i County Council members Dickie Chang and Mel Rapozo in offering their congratulations and lei ho‘okupu to Burgess.

Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i General Manager Doug Sears said he was glad the labor department wasn’t keeping track of the time Burgess and her family put toward the perpetuation and sharing of the Hawaiian culture.

During the day, crafters were allowed to set up at the Po‘ipu resort, anchored by a table from the Waiohai where proceeds from a bake and bento sale were earmarked for the Visitor Industry Charity Walk. The walk will take place May 12 starting at 7 a.m. at the Historic County Building in Lihu‘e.

“This is all about sharing,” Lazaro said. “We don’t charge the crafters a fee for setting up, today. We want them to share their mana‘o with our visitor community in the same way they share it in their own community.”

Teresa Cooper of Carlsbad, Calif., is a repeat visitor to the annual event.

“Every year, we’re here,” said Cooper, whose arms were laden with goods from Karin Panui’s booth. “We buy for our grandchildren and daughters and everyone. This is better than a one-stop shop.”

Panui said she was doing solo duty, Tuesday, normally accompanied by her hawker Edwin Vea.

“But Karene (Kunimura) stopped by with her mother and helped for a little while,” Panui said. “They had to leave, but I can handle.”

She said the manapua bags are still popular, although she said she tells the visitors they’re Soccer Mom bags because it sells better.

“The bags and the organizers are the hot sellers,” the Kaua‘i Made vendor said. “I’ll be at the Kaua‘i Community College, Saturday from 9 a.m. when the Kaua‘i Made crafters join with the Kaua‘i Grown farmers and vendors for one of the two big events in the year.”

According to Kahea Zietz and the Hawai‘i Life and several other websites, in Hawai‘i, May Day is known as Lei Day and is normally set aside as a day to celebrate island and Hawaiian culture.

The first Lei Day was held May 1, 1928, when everyone in Honolulu was encouraged to wear a lei during festivities being held in Downtown Honolulu featuring hula, music, lei-making demonstrations and other lei-related activities.

The celebration has grown and expanded to a point where almost every elementary and high school in Hawai‘i celebrates May Day with a Royal Court being selected along with princesses representing each of the Hawaiian Islands and its appropriate protocol officials.

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

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