Celebrating a legacy

PRINCEVILLE — Warren and Colette Boeker said they are always looking for ways to broaden their global perspectives — whether they’re actually searching for it or not.

So when the Seattle couple strolled into the atrium of the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort in Poipu Friday morning with their 13-year-old daughter, Chloe, they were thrilled to discover the opening ceremony of the Prince Kuhio Festival, a tradition that mixes culture, art, music and history.

“Whenever we visit someplace, it’s important for us to enrich ourselves,” said Warren Boeker. “This is a remarkable celebration we weren’t anticipating so it’s really kind of serendipitous.”

A diverse gathering kicked off the annual three-day festival recognizing Hawaii’s last reigning Prince.

Honored as the “People’s Prince,” the legendary Prince Kuhio is hailed as a man of commendable sincerity and strong convictions who stood for what was right and never yielded to weakness, said George Thronas, director of Hawaiian Culture at the Grand Hyatt.

“This is a man who was such a legend to so many … and he has a special significance to the people of Kauai because this was his birthplace,” Thronas said.

Prince Kuhio was born on the South Shore of Kauai on March 26, 1871. His birthday is celebrated as a Hawaii state holiday. Hawaiian in appearance, name and loyalties, Prince Kuhio’s overall attitude was a make up of his education, Thronas said.

Ernell Gonzales of Poipu has celebrated the life of Prince Kuhio for years and is humbled by his legacy.

“I feel that it is my kuleana to perpetuate his legacy and honor what he did for all the people of Hawaii,” Gonzales said. “What he stood for as a man and continues to stand for brings tears to my eyes.”

Long-time Koloa resident Kristina Martinez agreed.

“When you stand in the presence of something this grand — a legend — that had such an impact on people and our way of life, it really is amazing,” Martinez said.

Thronas said the celebration of Prince Kuhio is appreciated by people of all ages and from all walks of life.

“Every year, we have people asking about next year’s celebration and making plans now to come back,” he added. “Hundreds visit the Hyatt every year just for this event.”

Martinez said, “Prince Kuhio will forever have a significant impact on our lives, our history, and our future.”

The celebration honoring Prince Kuhio continues today and Sunday at the Hyatt and is open to the public.

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