Celebration in Waikiki honors Duke Kahanamoku's birthday

Joe Ramieri
Joe Ramieri
Mary Olson
Mary Olson

By Roger Mari - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - It was a week of fun exciting water sports competition in honor of Duke Kahanomuku, culminating with a traditional Waikiki celebration.

Hawaii's original waterman and Olympic medalist would have been 118 years old today.

In celebration, his statue in Waikiki was draped with lei.

The closing ceremonies for the Duke's Oceanfest began with Hawaiian music and dance.

Surfboards with lei were then brought to the statue of Hawaii's official ambassador of aloha.

"It's all symbolic of Duke. The surfboards, because of Duke's connection to the ocean, the freshwater lei because of just the greetings to everyone here and the commemoration of Duke Kahanamoku," said Patrick Dugan of the Outrigger Duke's Foundation.

Hundreds gathered to commemorate Duke Kahanamoku. Some are familiar with what he had done for Hawaii, sharing the sport he loved with everybody who came to Waikiki.

"If he was alive today he would make sure that we try to make the ocean clean, keep the beaches available to everybody, keep surfing and all water sports alive in the ocean," said Visitor Joe Ramieri.

The statue is one of the most photographed landmarks on Oahu, and for some visitors today's celebration is unlike anything they had ever seen.

"Absolutely beautiful phenomenal not enough words can describe it. That is something that I've traveled overseas and never seen something so beautiful," said Visitor Mary Olson.

Remembering a legendary surfer, waterman, Olympic medalist, and looking forward to more Oceanfests in honor of Duke Kahanamoku.

There were more than 10-thousand flowers used to make the 10-to-12 foot lei. They will be draped on Duke's statue for at least the next couple of days.