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Celebrations for lei day this year can take place from home, virtually, and honor first responders

  • COURTESY HONOLULU DEPT. OF PARKS AND RECREATION
                                This year’s lei day celebration will take place at home, and honor warriors, including first responders.

    COURTESY HONOLULU DEPT. OF PARKS AND RECREATION

    This year’s lei day celebration will take place at home, and honor warriors, including first responders.

  • COURTESY HONOLULU DEPT. OF PARKS AND RECREATION
                                This year’s lei day celebration will take place at home, and honor warriors, including first responders.

    COURTESY HONOLULU DEPT. OF PARKS AND RECREATION

    This year’s lei day celebration will take place at home, and honor warriors, including first responders.

This year’s May Day will be markedly different due to the coronavirus pandemic, but residents can still celebrate Lei Day on Friday in a different way.

Although Honolulu’s 93rd annual lei day celebration at Kapiolani Park has been canceled, the city Department of Parks and Recreation last week announced it would celebrate this year with the “Na Lei Koa (Warrior Lei)” theme for Lei Day.

“Aloha prevails in Hawaii during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the department in a news release. “Although efforts to combat the virus have impacted our lives in so many ways, it has not wavered the Spirit of Aloha that unites us as island residents. In fact, it has strengthened that spirit.”

Residents are invited to make a lei using items found in and around their homes, and to safely display it on Friday from their mailboxes, without inhibiting postal operations, or from their lanai or front door, from sunrise to sunset.

The theme is an opportunity for residents to display aloha and show their appreciation for the warriors battling the coronavirus, including first responders, medical professionals, and essential workers who are keeping everyone safe and working hard during this global pandemic, said the department.

It also recognizes warriors “who are making sacrifices by remaining at home to prevent the spread of the virus.”

The idea for the Na Lei Koa theme came from Lorraine Garnier of Kailua, who collaborated with DPR Lei Day Celebration organizer, Kaiulani Kauahi to develop this unique way of sharing the spirit of Aloha during stay-at-home orders.

“I feel what our islands can bring and our planet need now more than ever is hope,” said Garnier in the release. “I remember all of the times when the kindness, warmth, and spirit of our communities wrapped extreme news stories with hope through lei-making as we joined together to lift up spirits elsewhere. I truly believe the Na Lei Koa theme is exactly what we need across the globe. I am grateful to the Department of Parks and Recreation for helping to bring this to fruition.”

Separately, hundreds of kupuna at The Plaza Assisted Living’s six communities across Oahu will be treated to an exclusive May Day afternoon performance of Hawaiian music livestreamed from the Royal Hawaiian Center.

The center’s cultural director, Monte McComber, and Na Hoku Hanohano award winner Aaron J. Sala, the center’s director of cultural affairs, will perform popular island classics such as “Papalina Lahilahi,” “Sweet Someone,” “Lei of Love,” and “Puamana,” among others. Sala’s wife, Makanani Sala, will showcase each song with a hula.

The Plaza has invited other long-term care communities to join the special May Day concert via video conferencing service Zoom.

The Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts has also posted a “Lei Making at Home” series with step-by-step tips on how to make a variety of lei using natural materials on both Facebook and Instagram.

The department invites lei makers to share photos of their completed lei on social media with #naleikoa, and to tag @honolulu_parks (on Twitter and Instagram) as a way to share the spirit of aloha with the world.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

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