Some say that the life of Kauai’s Princess Ka’iulani was filled with tragedy, but Mark Jeffers, director of Hanapepe’s Storybook Theater, said he sees her as an inspiration and a “shero” for the island’s keiki.
That’s why she was chosen as the muse for the 11th annual Princess Ka’iulani Celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday on Hanapepe Road.
“Children nowadays need a hero, or what I call a shero,” Jeffers said. “They need to be able to look up to people in history that faced adversarial conditions in Hawaii and to connect to the island’s roots.”
Vendors and children’s activities will be open at 11 a.m. and a children’s costume parade will march down Hanapepe Road starting at 12:30. At 2 p.m., there is a birthday party for the princess at the Storybook Theater.
“We’re looking for as many people as possible to join us for the children’s parade,” Jeffers said. “It’s so close to Halloween that it gives the kids a chance to show off their Halloween costumes, so it works great.”
Princess Ka’iulani, born in 1875, lived during a tumultuous time in Kauai’s history. When she was young, she was sent to England to learn everything she could about the British’s parliamentary-style government because the Hawaiian monarchy was “obsessed” with the British monarchy, according to Jeffers.
While she was gone, the Hawaiian government began to crumble.
“She was designated as the queen apparent, so she was preparing herself to be a queen,” Jeffers said. “She was only supposed to be gone for a year but she was gone for eight years, because of conditions here in the islands.”
When she finally left England, the princess went to New York, where she met with President Cleveland and pleaded the case for her people.
“She impressed people with her ability to talk about what was happening in Hawaii,” Jeffers said. “When she came back to Hawaii, she tried to impress the Americans who were taking over the Kingdom with the idea of compromise, but it didn’t work.”
Even though her attempts at saving Hawaii’s independence failed, the princess dedicated herself to the health of her people and the preservation of her culture
“When annexation came, she was still alive,” Jeffers said. “But she died at 23. She was attending a wedding in Waimea on the Big Island and she got caught in a rainstorm and came down ill. She died a few months later.”
Those in need of a costume for the parade can visit the event’s costume room, which will open at 11 a.m. It holds costumes that kids and adults can use for free during the course of the event.
The Joyful Noise Taiko Drumming group will be performing, as well as slack key guitarist, Paul Togioka. Togioka wrote a song specifically for Princess Ka’iulani that he will play.
“There’s going to be nutritious food and great entertainment,” Jeffers said. “It’s really a great event for the whole family.”
The Princess is represented every year by a local girl and this year, it will be Malina Waiʻaleʻale-Battad, a fifth-grade student at Kawaikini School. Malina will be reading a story to children and performing a solo hula at the Princess’s Birthday Party.