Thousands of bougainvillea flowers strung into a 30-foot lei for - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

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Thousands of bougainvillea flowers strung into a 30-foot lei for Kamehameha Day

The lei is completed in portions, then sewn together as one. (Image: Hawaii News Now) The lei is completed in portions, then sewn together as one. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Volunteers spent hours Thursday stringing the flowers together. (Image: Hawaii News Now) Volunteers spent hours Thursday stringing the flowers together. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

With lei needles in hand, dozens of volunteers spent hours Thursday preparing lei for King Kamehameha Day. 

On Oahu, dozens of hula dancers worked alongside city leaders to string thousands of bougainvillea petals into lei to drape over the King Kamehameha statue across Iolani Palace.

Upon completion, the strand of vibrant bougainvillea lei measured roughly 30 feet in length. 

"This is the way our city honors our king. We all get together ... to put pua on the needle, put it all together, and honor our king," Executive Director of the Mayor's Office of Culture and Arts Misty Kela'i said. 

All the flowers were gathered from city parks.

Plumeria, ti leaves and other greenery have been used in previous lei, but this year's flower choice is bright purple in color with a special meaning. 

"Purple is the royal color," Kela'i said. "Kumu says, 'Kamehameha was the greatest warrior, so we're giving him his purple heart.'" 

Draping the lei over the statue at Ali'iolani Hale is a popular island tradition. Hundreds of locals, visitors, dozens of organizations and even the Honolulu Fire Department attend annually.

Royal societies alongside firefighters will drape the statue at 3 p.m. Friday. The public is invited to the ceremony.

The festivities continue on Saturday with a floral parade through town. It will be complete with pa'u riders, floats and plenty of flowers. 

It begins at 9 a.m. at Iolani Palace, and weaves through to Waikiki, ending at the Kapiolani Bandstand.

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