Lei contest welcomes May

LIHUE — Linda Pitman earned the Director’s Choice Award, as well as the top award in the Pink and Red category and a number of other awards Sunday during the 36th annual Irmalee and Walter Pomroy Lei Contest at the Kauai Museum courtyard.

“Irmalee taught me lei,” Pitman said. “Irmalee is the impetus to go out and harvest items for lei. I’ve been doing lei for more than 30 years, and Irmalee is the one who showed me the spots and how to harvest items. Every time I do a lei, I think about her. I miss her.”

Hundreds of people flowed through the Kauai Museum courtyard gates, anxious to get closer views of the variety of lei put up for judging, and eventual sale through a silent auction process.

“My daughter-in-law, Carrie, has been watching this process for years,” Pitman said. “This is the first time she entered a lei. She ended a winner of the Distinguished President’s Award.”

Marissa Ornellas was another first-time lei entrant, earning the Prestigious Board of Trustees Award for her yellow lehua creation and a second place award in the hat haku category.

“The hardest part was finding the time to make lei,” Ornellas said. “I did mine when baby was asleep.”

Another mamo lehua creation earned Ilima Rivera the County of Kauai Office of the Mayor Award, the award being presented by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. Before bestowing the award, Carvalho got the crowd into the mood with a rendering of “May Day is Lei Day” with entertainers Dickie Chang, Larry Rivera and Mike Keale.

“All those flowers came from our house,” said Gloria Rivera, Ilima’s mother. “Even the yellow lehua. It’s all from our place.”

Another Rivera, Valerie Rivera, was the recipient of the Irmalee Pomroy Award.

Keiki lei makers had the hard task of creating their lei at the museum, having to bring the supplies and getting just 90 minutes to complete their task.

“Kahana Heen is a student at Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama,” said Elvrine Chow, a top winner in the Mixed Colors category, and a judge for Keiki Ka Lei. “She came home just to be in the contest.”

Heen’s creation of a braided lei topped the Grades 6 to 8 category, one of the largest in Keiki Ka Lei.

“Masumi Iwai is from Tokyo, Japan,” Chow said. “Her parents just came up to the door and wanted her to enter. We were able to get some flowers she could borrow from one of the contestants and let her enter.”

The gesture was fruitful as Iwai was named a third-place winner in Grades 6 to 8, below Ka‘ohu Ranis who bore the brunt of Chang’s jokes about no slippers. Ranis also entered a lei into the adult category, earning the Hobey Goodale award.

Mia Javellana might not have been the fastest lei maker in the courtyard, but her deliberate and confident movement resulted in the top honor for the Grades K to 2 category. She also took the Youngest Lei Maker Award.

“Irmalee and Walter must be looking down on us right now,” said Paul Pomroy. “And I can see them smiling with pride and enjoyment.”

Contest Results

Director’s Choice Award: Linda Pitman

Kauai Museum 56th Anniversary Award: Angela Olivas

Distinguished President’s Award: Carrie Pitman

Prestigious Board of Trustees Award: Marissa Ornellas

County of Kauai Office of the Mayor Award: Ilima Rivera

Irmalee Pomroy Award: Valerie Rivera

Hobey Goodale Award: Ka‘ohu Ranis

Walter Pomroy Award ‘Ka Lei i Ka Wekiu’: Michael Koerte

Grace & Lyle Guslander Award: Uli‘i Castor

Kauai Marriott Resort Award: Kaua‘i Iki

Kauai Mokihana Malie Foundation Award: Kaua‘i Iki

Kauai Beach Resort Award ‘Outstanding Lei Maker’: Haunani Pacheco

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa Award ‘Kapua I Ka Heke’: Madeline Guyett

Keiki La Lei ‘Youngest Lei Maker Award’: Mia Javellana

Category awards

Orange and yellow: Lola Bukoski, Carol Yotsuda, Linda Pitman

Blue and Purple: Michael Koerte, Kaua‘i Iki, Linda Pitman

Pink and Red: Linda Pitman, Carlina Vea, Mary Lou Harchis

White and Green: Donna A‘ana-Nakahara, Kaua‘i Iki, Kirby Guyer

Mixed Colors: Elvrine Chow, Linda Pitman, Kaua‘i Iki

Ti-Leaf: Jodi Gardner, Harry Lemn, Haunani Pacheco

Hat: Kaua‘i Iki, Marissa Ornellas, Emma Chidgey

Lanakila Hou ‘New Winner’: Malia Nobrega-Olivera, Donna A‘ana-Nakahara, Terrill Lynn

Keiki La Lei

Grades K-2: Mia Javellana

Grades 6-8: Kahana Heen, Ka‘ohu Ranis, Masumi Iwai

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