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TODAY IS KAMEHAMEHA DAY, JUNE 11TH, EVERY YEAR IN THE BEAUTIFUL ISLANDS OF HAWAI'I.
Kamehameha Day on June 11 is a public holiday of the state of Hawaii in the United States. It honors Kamehameha the Great, the monarch who first established the unified Kingdom of Hawaiʻi — comprising the Hawaiian Islands of Niʻihau, Kauaʻi,Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui and Hawaiʻi. While he was king, Hawaii was a center of the fur and sandalwood trade. Pineapples were brought to Hawaii from Spain in 1813 and coffee was first planted in 1818, a year before he died. In 1883 a statue of King Kamehameha I was dedicated in Honolulu by King David Kalākaua (this was duplicate, because the original statue was lost at sea). There is another duplicate of this statue in Emancipation Hall at the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C.
The holiday was first established by royal decree of the ruling great grandson Kamehameha V on 1871. The first observance of the holiday happened the following year. Late 19th century celebrations of Kamehameha Day featured carnivals and fairs, foot races, horse races and velocipede races. Kamehameha Day was one of the first holidays proclaimed by the Governor of Hawaiʻi and the Hawaiʻi State Legislature when Hawaiʻi achieved statehood in 1959.
Today, Kamehameha Day is treated with elaborate events harkening back to ancient Hawaiʻi, respecting the cultural traditions that Kamehameha defended as his society was slowly shifting towards European trends. The King Kamehameha Hula Competition attracts hula groups from all over the world to the Neil S. Blaisdell Center for the two day event. Prizes are awarded on the second night.
A floral parade is held annually at various locations throughout the state of Hawaii. On the island of Oahu, the parade runs from ʻIolani Palace in downtown Honolulu past Honolulu Harbor and the Prince Kūhiō Federal Building through Kakaʻako, Ala Moana and Waikīkī, ending at Kapiʻolani Park. June 11 is also the anniversary of the dedication of Kapiʻolani Park. The floral parade features local marching bands — including the Royal Hawaiian Band (the oldest municipal band in the United States) — and artistically designed floats using native flowers and plants. Many local companies enter floats for their employees.
A favorite floral parade feature is the traditional royal paʻu riders. They represent a royal court led by a queen on horseback, followed by princesses representing the eight major islands of Hawaiʻi and Molokini. Each princess is attended by paʻu ladies in waiting. Paʻu women are dressed in colorful and elegant 19th century riding gowns accented with lei and other floral arrangements.
After the parade, the state celebrates a Hoʻolauleʻa, literally Celebration, or block party with food and music. Cultural exhibitions are also scattered throughout Kapiʻolani Park — arts and crafts, games, sports and other events planned by the Bishop Museum, the premier Hawaiian cultural institution.
On the Island of Hawaii, there are two floral parades held. One between the towns of Hawi and Kapaʻau and the other in the town of Hilo. There is also a lei draping ceremony in Kapaau at the statue of King Kai there.
The most important ritual dates back to 1901 after the Territory of Hawaiʻi was established. It is the evening draping ceremony in which the Kamehameha Statue in front of Aliʻiolani Hale and ʻIolani Palace on King Street in downtown Honolulu is draped in long strands of lei. The same is done at the Kamehameha Statue on the former monarch's home island, the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. Outside of the state, a similar draping ceremony is held at the United States Capitol where the Kamehameha Statue there is also draped in lei in the company of federal officials.
The celebration includes a traditional Pa‘u Parade and a Ho‘olaule‘a. The celebration is organized by the Kohala Hawaiian Civic Club.
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