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Ho‘omaika‘i (Congratulations ) To The 94th Lei Court!
O‘AHU - The Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) bids a fond ho‘omaika‘i (congratulations) and e komo mai (welcome) to the members of the 94th Lei Court!
•Queen Leilani Kūpahu-Marino Kahoʻāno
•First Princess Melodie Lynn Leinaʻala Naluaʻi Vega
•Princess Charlene Kapualani Kauhane Harano
Leilani Kūpahu-Marino Kahoʻāno hails from Waimānalo and is pursuing an advanced nursing degree from UH Mānoa with decades of prior nursing experience. She is particularly enthusiastic about incorporating hula and cultural practices into medical care at every stage of life. Leilani has been instrumental in launching several medical foundations (including Caring for Hawai‘i Neonates) while serving as a cultural advisor for others. This drive to combine her professional and personal passions is evident in her decades of lei-making and hula experience. Along with caring for her mother, she enjoys spending time with her husband Kimo, their five children, and five grandkids. Leilani also passes her time by volunteering, playing golf, and enjoying music.
Melodie Lynn Leinaʻala Naluaʻi Vega is a Kāne‘ohe resident who has utilized her studies in Childcare and Education throughout her career, notably working as a traveling preschool teacher with Kamehameha Schools and as the Chief Early Education Officer at the Keiki O Ka ‘Āina Family Learning Centers. A haumana hula from a young age, Melodie enjoys making lei from napua grown in her garden, along with spending time in the ocean, traveling, reading, writing, and enjoying music (coming from a musically inclined family). This year she and her husband Robert celebrate their 45thanniversary, they were high school sweethearts. They are proud parents of two with one granddaughter.
Charlene Kapualani Kauhane Harano is a Kāne‘ohe resident and McKinley High grad who now serves with the Honolulu Police Department’s Human Service Unit. She has danced hula since she was 11-years-old, dancing professionally in the Kodak Hula Show (including performances in Japan). She has fond memories of performing during the Lei Day Celebration at Kapi‘olani Park throughout her life, and admires the creative beauty and skill needed to make lei for any occasion. Along with baking, she enjoys spending time with her husband Roy, their three daughters, and four grandkids.
The court was determined during the selection event March 4, 2023 at Kapolei Hale; a beautiful celebration of Native Hawaiian culture, hula, ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, and of course lei-making. Mahalo to all of the fantastic participants and the jubilant spectators who attended the selection event, including the preceding Lei Court members: Natalie Brown Ah Quin, Kalehua Tolentino, and Kēhau Holi-Robb
Queen Leilani and her court will preside over the 95th Annual Lei Day Celebration festivities, and will be the City’s Ambassadors of Aloha at a variety of public events.
The 95th Annual Lei Day Celebration will be held on Monday, May 1, 2023, at Kapi‘olani Park, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Along with Hawaiian entertainment, demonstrations, and exhibits, the celebration event will feature a lei contest exhibit showcasing some of the most exquisitely crafted lei in a variety of colors and methods.
The first Lei Day was celebrated on May 1, 1927 with a few people wearing lei in downtown Honolulu. Over time, more and more people began to wear lei on May 1, and thus began the tradition of “May Day is Lei Day in Hawai‘i.” The first lei Queen, Miss Nina Bowman, was crowned by Honolulu Mayor Charles Arnold in 1928. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, when large, in-person events were restricted, our island community found innovative ways to celebrate this uniquely Hawaiian holiday. This included a video presentation to mark Lei Day in 2021, and the Nā Lei Koa in 2020 to honor our first responders.
For more information about the Lei Court Selection, Lei Day Celebration, and an awesome historical write-up of the history of Lei Day in Hawai‘i visit bit.ly/HonoluluLeiDay
Funding provided by Hula Grill Waikīkī, Handcrafters and Artisans Alliance, and Friends of Honolulu Parks and Recreation.
If you need an auxiliary aid/service, other accommodations due to a disability, or an interpreter for a language other than English in reference to this announcement, please contact the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation at (808) 768-3003 on weekdays from 7:45 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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