Annual lei draping ceremony saved - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Annual lei draping ceremony saved

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Image source: Marilyn Potter Image source: Marilyn Potter
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Elmer Ka'ai is the Chair of the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission.  He's a self-described strong organizer, and it doesn't take long in speaking with him to realize he doesn't rattle easily.

However, the first week of June, he found himself in a situation he described as "grave".

"We had a vendor that because of the heavy rain, could not give us the amount of flowers that we usually get" he said, referring to the plumeria needed to make the lei for the annual lei draping ceremony.

The shortage left the commission some 30,000 flowers short.  He acted quickly.

"We sent out emails, a blast, Facebook, reached out to media, and try to see if we can get people's commitment to provide flowers."

The public rallied for the cause, as several volunteers sprung to action, but it was an eleventh hour phone call from Maui that put the flower count over the top.

"Actually, about an hour or so ago" Ka'ai said early Tuesday afternoon.  "They said we'll provide you with about 20,000 more flowers, and they'll fly it over," he continued, smiling.

Ka'ai said the entire commission has been floored by the amount of support it received. 

"That's a lot.  It means there's a commitment towards Kamehameha, the day, the event.  It's a special place for Hawaii," said Ka'ai.

For those still wanting to help, the commission is accepting volunteers to help make the lei, starting Wednesday morning at 7am; head down to the Kamehameha statue in downtown Honolulu just off King Street, across from Iolani Palace to do so.

For more information, please visit: http://ags.hawaii.gov/kamehameha/

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