When two members of Kauai’s Hawaiian community got the call to lead this year’s King’s Celebration and Parade in Lihue on Saturday, they were at a loss for words, but later said they were appreciative and honored to be participants.
Representing King Kamehameha this year is William Kaauwai II of Wailua, while the distinction of the parade’s Grand Marshal goes to Dora Swain of Anahola.
Kaauwai said he never thought he’d be chosen as the parade’s king, but said he’ll do his best to honor King Kamehameha and the Hawaiian people.
“Being a Hawaiian is very special to me; very special to a lot of people,” he said. “There’s very few Hawaiians left, so we have to try and continue our legacy.”
Kaauwai will be joined with his father and other members of his family, which goes hand in hand with the theme of the parade: Pupukahi I Holomua – Kauai ‘ohana (unite to move forward – families of Kauai).
As this year’s king, Kaauwai hopes to inspire the youth and share his beliefs with the younger generation.
“We can pass on our mana‘o (beliefs) to the younger generation — our techniques, our style, our fishing, our knowledge — whatever we’ve learned,” he said. “You get to meet the newer generation that is coming up and see what their vision of Hawaii is.”
Aunty Dora Swain, this year’s Grand Marshal, has shared her mano‘a with everyone she’s met.
“I’ve always enjoyed sharing my Hawaii with other people,” Swain said. “It was always, ‘This is what I love; this is what I have; this is what I hope you enjoy, also.’”
For Swain, the distinction of Grand Marshal is another outlet to spread her love of the island and Hawaiian culture with others.
“It’s nice how it came about. I love my island, my people, and I love to share it with others,” Swain said. “I try to help people to learn. If you cannot say anything good, which includes my island, don’t say anything.”
A resident kupuna at the Princeville Hotel before she retired, Swain would often talk stories with visitors and play music.
“She’s sang at hundreds of weddings,” said Anna Velasco, Swain’s daughter. “She’s blessed people’s lives with the spirit of aloha, which is genuine.”
Since she was a child, Swain said she would try to live Hawaiian in every way.
“Whether it’s someone I know, total strangers, someone at the store,” she said. “If someone’s unpleasant I try not to be unpleasant.”
The retired kupuna isn’t as active as she once was, but she does what she can to help her community.
“It’s a different world, but some of the generosity, the aloha, is still around,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see the sunrise, hear the surf, listen to children laughing. If you keep looking, you can see good things.”