Exciting day for kupuna

KAPAA — The familiar strains of “May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii” generated excitement at the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital Monday morning as the hospital unveiled its May Day court through the efforts of its staff, residents’ families, and community volunteers.

“This is very exciting,” said Josie Pablo, the Mahelona Hospital recreation director and spearhead of the massive effort. “May Day celebrates Hawaii’s rich history and teaches everyone about the monarchy. Only in Hawaii, the May Day is Lei Day festivities dating back to the 1920s, is a cultural and historical celebration.”

Pablo’s staff of Juvie Bercasio, Lalaine Rabaino and Riza Pena have been quietly amassing the materials for the gala unveiling, and solicited other hospital staff to “adopt” the various royalty in the May Day court.

“Oh, this one has too much elastic,” Bercasio said, adjusting the gown of Melody Pascual, the princess of Maui. “I spent a lot of time sewing the gowns, using all kinds of specials and leftover material to make the gowns.”

Pablo said the residents were excited to be a part of the gala celebration with music being provided by Aileen Mawae, a nominee for the Kauai Outstanding Older American, as the royalty was introduced, photographed by volunteer Wilma Chandler, another nominee for the Kauai Outstanding Older American.

“The residents were so excited when they got up, today,” Pablo said. “Even now, they’re so excited to be dressed up, and being visited by Kauai County Councilmember Ross Kagawa, who got away from his teaching duties for a while, is so special for them.”

Mrs. Beverly Kahalioumi was named the 2016 May Day Queen, being joined by Alfred Pacheco as the May Day King.

“I had to be here because the king is my brother,” said Gary Pacheco who was accompanied by his wife Haunani, a winner of the lei contest hosted by the Kauai Museum, May 1. “Where do we go from here?”

Elsie Rivera is the princess for the Big Island, being escorted by Dino Bondallian and Florence Kaona, Maureen Gonsalves adopting Rivera as the princess.

Melody Pascual represented Maui, a Relay for Life survivor Elaine Morita being the sponsor. Pascual was escorted by Eugene Delos Reyes.

Annie Javellana wore the gray of Kaho‘olawe, escorted by Richard Weiss and sponsored by Jolyn Chew, surrounded by Javellana’s family who also made a strong showing at the May Day lei contest at the museum.

Lauren Rapozo, being sponsored by Rose Manago, wore the orange of Lanai and was escorted by Joe Hashimoto, and Julia Baumann was escorted by Moki Kau as the princess of Oahu.

Helen Nishimura was garbed in the green of Molokai, escorted by Marcelo Melchor through the sponsorship of Debbie Bonilla.

Keiki Bonilla, of the hospital’s housekeeping department, sponsored Margie Ponce who represented Kauai and was escorted by Oscar Montejo.

Genevieve Silva was escorted by Jacob Martins as the princess of Ni‘ihau, the couple being sponsored by Holly Moises and Kaulana.

“These people at Mahelona Hospital are so good,” said Eleanor Kennedy of California who was visiting her mother, Leonora Schies, for her 101st birthday. “It’s so good to see people who are not castaways. I can’t thank the staff enough for what they do for the residents. My mother, who will be celebrating her 101st birthday Wednesday, knows all the people. I was watching her go down the hall one day and a guy was mopping the floor. He stopped his work to talk to her. They know people. These people are not castaways.”

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