LIHUE — Natalie Haraguchi could not help herself Saturday during the 41st Queen Liliuokalani Keiki Hula competition at the Neal Blaisdell Center on Oahu.
“My son Keison is dancing with Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala for the first year,” Haraguchi said. “After all the hard work of making lei and practice, to see all the kane on stage, and to see him smiling, I couldn’t help myself. I just started crying.”
Na kane of the hula halau directed by Kumu Hula Leina‘ala Pavao Jardin finished the competition by earning first place honors in Hula Auana with their performance inspired by Kauai’s wild fowl.
Keison was also dancing with na kane in their Hula Kahiko where the Kalaheo-based halau finished with first runner-up honors for both the girls and boys divisions.
Hallie Frasco and Kiwa‘a Hermosura, the halau’s candidates for the competition’s Miss and Master Keiki Hula, finished the weekend by each earning third runner-up honors.
However, the journey did not end with the collection of awards and trophies as the halau was victimized by Tropical Storm Darby on its homeward journey, the flight being canceled in Honolulu while parents, relatives and friends who arrived home on earlier flights sat around at the Lihue Airport.
“This was a tough year for the halau,” said Kim Frasco, Hallie’s mother and a hula dancer. “It appears we had more halau participating this year. To add to that, Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala was last on the lineup which meant the dancers were doing a lot of waiting.”
Haraguchi, who did hula when she was younger, said her son Keison loves the Hawaiian culture.
“It shows when he smiles while he dances,” Haraguchi said. “He always loved the Hawaiian culture, and when you see his smile, you know he’s happy.”
Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala is on the entertainment lineup for the Koloa Plantation Days ho‘olaule‘a, Saturday at Anne Knudsen Park. A parent said they are anticipating having na keiki doing the performances they did for the hula competition.