Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Catching Hawaii's Aloha Festivals

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Catching Hawaii's Aloha Festivals

Article excerpt

HAWAII. It's not just another pretty shirt.

In fact, the beautiful island chain of our 50th state is bathed in as exotic a tradition as any.

Back in 1946, when it was still an annexed territory, Hawaii began one of its richest traditions - the Aloha Festivals - to ensure the survival of Hawaiian music, dance and culture. That festival celebration has grown into one of the most significant annual events in the islands, and today's visitors can see it all - from kumu hula and pahu drums to lau hala weaving, gourd dying and basket-making.

Originally, the festivals lasted for a single week. Now celebrated inter-island-wide, they span six weeks and include the cultural variety of the many ethnic groups that now call Hawaii home.

One of the most indigenous ways to enjoy such a varied heritage is aboard an American Hawaii cruise. Since 1990, American Hawaii Cruises has featured theme cruises during the Aloha Festivals celebration to help generate awareness of Hawaiian culture.

All sailings are aboard the SS Constitution and SS Independence, the only two cruise ships currently sailing under the American flag. For the festivals, the ships feature Hawaiian decor, entertainment and food, and include presentations by Hawaiian experts who will highlight its history. In addition, special appearances have been scheduled by the Hawaiian Royal Court, representing the traditional royal family of each island.

A roster of onboard speakers will discuss Hawaiian history, royalty, music and dance. Included are Glenn Grant, a local historian; Cy Bridges, vice president of cultural presentations at the Polynesian Cultural Center; Allan Seiden, author of "Hawaii: the Royal Legacy"; and Lynn Cook, an authority on the history of Aloha Festivals who also will give print-making classes. the Rev. Abraham Akaka will speak about the meaning of "aloha."

In art classes held aboard ship throughout the week, Hawaiian artists will display their work and share secrets for capturing Hawaii's beauty. …

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