HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thousands of people jammed Kalakaua Avenue on Friday night for the Pan-Pacific Festival Hoolaulea.
It’s just one event that will close one of the busiest streets in Waikiki on one of the busiest weekends of the year. The hoolaulea is actually the first of three consecutive days of activities in Waikiki.
The Pan-Pacific Festival has been promoting international friendship, especially between Hawaii and Japan, since 1980.
“Bringing it here, I think the intent and their desire was to bridge these two cultures together -- Hawaiian culture, our tradition, and Japanese culture -- and then to help promote this idea of unity and harmony,” said Hauoli Akaka, a Hawaiian culture specialist.
It’s also meant to promote Hawaii and to attract more visitors — from Japan and elsewhere.
“I was talking to people from Missouri, all the way from New York, and I was like, how long did it take you to get here?” said Isaac Cabral of Arizona, making his first-ever visit to Hawaii. He was amazed at the number of places where people were coming from. “Italy, France, Australia — just everywhere.”
“It’s awesome,” said Cabral’s grandmother Terry Castillo of San Diego. “It takes an organized effort to do this with the police department, the fire department, the hotels, the Uber drivers and everyting, but it brings everybody together.”
It’s also the weekend marking a major state holiday, Kamehameha Day, which actually falls on Tuesday.
The traditional lei draping of the king’s statue fronting Ali’iolani Hale took place Friday afternoon, a day before the 102nd annual parade honoring the king. The parade will make its way from Iolani Palace, down Kalakaua Avenue, to Kapiolani Park.
Then there’s the parade for the Pan-Pacific Festival, also down Kalakaua, on Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m.
The two events have become intertwined.
“Kintetsu, the sponsor of Pan-Pacific, has also become a large sponsor or co-sponsor of our Kamehameha festivities, as wlel as other arts, such as the Na Hoku Hanohano awards which recently concluded,” said Akaka.
The city recently passed a law limiting the number of events that shut down Kalakaua Avenue to 27 a year, down from 30. This weekend’s festivals are on a list of 15 legacy events that automatically get permits.
But the three consecutive events will make for a busy weekend — and a challenge for people who need to get in and out of Waikiki.