HANAPEPE — When 10-year-old Sami Lin Kihenepualehuamakanoe Ofisa found out that she would portray the princess at this year’s Princess Ka’iulani Keiki Fest, she was really excited and honored.
But also very, very nervous.
“Trying to play a princess is pretty nerve-racking,” said the Hanapepe resident.
Sami will lead the children’s parade, a hula, story reading and will be the guest of honor at her own birthday party Saturday in Storybook’s “Sparky Garden,” along with arriving at the festival on horseback — something she only learned to do this week.
“She had to practice because we’re not a horseback-riding family,” said Sami’s mother, Buffy. “She started riding a horse Wednesday but she did great; she loved it.”
Sami will ride her Aunty Lorna’s horse, named Skyboy. It’s been a community effort to get the girl ready for this event, according to Buffy, and a learning experience they never expected.
“It’s more than just her. It’s totally outside of things I know how to do,” she said. “A lot of hands are going into this. It’s been an amazing experience in that sense, learning so much more than learning about the princess.”
For Sami, it’s been a whirlwind of nerves and excitement ever since she found out that she would be this year’s princess.
Last year’s princess, Malina Wai’ale’ale-Battad, recommended Sami for the role, and she was interviewed in June. Since then, there’s been a lot of studying and hard work to get ready.
Sami has read about the princess’ life and history, watched a couple of videos on her and has been given a lot of information by people looking to help.
“I feel blessed,” Buffy said. “This is the first time she’s doing something like this. It’s such a great opportunity. It’s a privilege and an opportunity for her to explore something different, in portraying a princess. It’s a blessing and we’re lucky. She tends to be a little bit more shy and quiet, so this is outside of her comfort zone.”
Sami has never attended the festival, so her first time will be a moment she’ll likely never forget.
“I don’t know, I never thought I’d get the opportunity but when it came, I was really excited,” Sami said. “I was really scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I don’t think I’ve ever done a solo before so I’m really nervous about it.”
That solo is the hula she will perform Saturday. With six years of hula experience, Sami has been learning a new hula with her kumu for the past two weeks in preparation for the festival.
The 2016 Princess Ka’iulani Keiki Fest will take place Saturday in Hanapepe. It is free and open to the public. The Hanapepe Hawaiian Congregational Church and Storybook Theatre will host the event and the road through Hanapepe Town will be closed for its duration.