HANAPEPE — An annual celebration Saturday in Hanapepe was one fit for royalty as dozens of keiki and their families gathered to commemorate the 138th birthday of Princess Kaiulani.
The one-day Princess Kaiulani Keiki Fest, now in its seventh year, is held annually by the Storybook Theatre of Hawaii in Hanapepe to remember Kaiulani’s efforts done for the sake of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
And what a birthday bash it was.
“I love all of the activities for kids and the parade — the people who are a part of it are so sweet,” said Kapahi resident Angela Hughes, who has been coming to the festival with her daughter, Daya, for the past three years. “When (Daya) comes to an event like this, I just feel that she feels nurtured by the community — she feels loved and a part of the event.”
She said she was touched by what Kaiulani had accomplished in her lifetime and the lesson and example she set for younger generations.
The princess, an immediate heir to the Hawaiian Kingdom throne when the monarchy was overthrown in 1893, later became known for her courage and determination as she worked to thwart an annexation campaign for Hawaii.
Although her efforts, which were heralded by then United States President Grover Cleveland, failed to stop the annexation of Hawaii, her efforts were not in vain.
Which made it an honor to portray her, Mckenna Kamalani Lee Pascua said.
The 16-year-old was selected to play the princess during the festival, which included a parade through the old main street of Hanapepe.
“Being in her shoes today is such an honor for me,” Pascua said. “It’s the privilege of being someone who was confident and strong and gave so much aloha and received so much in return. It’s just such a blessing to be here.”
Mark Jeffers, the founder and head of the Storybook Theatre of Hawaii, said the princess’s life was a good example for children.
The focus of the event is to teach kids about Hawaii’s history, and get them interested in stories and reading.