By Kaitlin Kogachi
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's Samoan Heritage Week, and the festivities are just getting started at Keehi Lagoon District Park.
The celebration is all about honoring Samoan heritage and culture. Church groups and community organizations are playing popular Samoan sports, including cricket and volleyball, all week. Local businesses have also come out to sell traditional Samoan arts and crafts. Vendors lining the park street are selling tasty Samoan dishes, including banana soup, German buns, and Samoan long rice. Some are even cooking family recipes to share with the public.
The festival also features career opportunities for the Samoan community in Hawaii. Government agencies, Honolulu Fire Department, and insurance agencies are among the organizations that offer career options.
Ropeti Ale, one of the event organizers, said, "For our youth, it's important that they are provided the opportunity, so they can explore career opportunities."
Organizing the festivities is a combined effort of the American Samoan government and local Samoan church groups and organizations. Ale noted it takes all year to fundraise and gain support to put on the week-long event.
Ale said, "We're fortunate and very grateful to the support we're getting from the community leaders, especially in the church organizations. They played a very significant role in this effort."
The celebration events are free and open to the public. Festivities will continue every day through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Evening entertainment will feature church groups and organizations performing local Samoan dances and songs.
A parade on Saturday is the highlight of the festivities, which will feature songs, dance, and appearances by government officials from Hawaii as well as American Samoa. The parade will begin at 8:30 a.m. and finish around 1 p.m.