Pa'u riders in Aloha Festivals floral parade

(HawaiiNewsNow) - Pa'u riders bring a certain elegance and pageantry to the annual Aloha Festivals floral parade with their colorful and aromatic adornments, but without equestrian training, the elegance and pageantry falls by the wayside. Amy Kalili explains.

These beautifully adorned pa'u riders are a highlight of the parade, but under all that garb are the true stars.

"Practicing with your horses, getting to know your horses, and bonding with your horses. Horsemanship is number one," said Leiala Cook, equestrian chair of the Aloha Festivals parade.

Leiala speaks from experience, haven ridden in numerous parades.

"To me, whatever time that you put into it, that is what is going to make you a better rider," said Kim Oshiro Costales, Niihau princess.

Kim is eager to participate in her very first Aloha Festivals parade.

"Excited and yet kind of anxious, not knowing what to expect," said Costales.

For Kim, it's about more than just riding. A bond is formed between rider and horse and the entire unit as they practice and prepare lei and attire, all as a team.

"Because you are being married to your unit, starting off from February all the way to the day of the parade in September," explained Cook.

They also know they are working together to keep a tradition alive.

"I love it because it is my culture. To me, it is my kuleana to do this, to perpetuate the culture for pa'u," said Kuuipo Santimer-Padilla, Kauai princess.

"I know in the end, on September 24, it is going to be an awesome feeling going down that road," said Costales.

Let's all go! The parade starts at 9:00 a.m. and runs from Ala Moana Park along Kalakaua Avenue to Kapiolani Park.