Ho'olaule'a Turns 22

Vulcans, community gather for family fun

22nd Ho'olaule'a

News Writer and Photographer Gina Selig

For over two decades, UH Hilo’s annual Ho‘olaule‘a has drawn students, keiki, and kupuna alike to enjoy a day of prizes, games, and melodies. This year’s theme was focused on the phrase “I Ulu No No Ka Lala I Ke Kumu.” Translated in English as “The branches grow because of the trunk,” the theme was highlighted the need to honor one’s roots while embracing new heights.

Held in the Performing Arts Center parking lot from noon to 9 p.m., a full day of musical acts took the stage. Among the artists included Halau o ka leo o na mamo, Ka‘ikena Scanlan, Waikea Ukulele band, Taishoji Taiko, Tupulaga o Samoa Mo a Taeao, Firewoman & These Guys, The Vitals 808, and Ekolu took place. The event also included a variety of food items, from fried Oreos to poke. As was the case in previous years, Ho‘olaule‘a largely received positive views, since it allowed for local vendors to advertise and for families to enjoy a free day of activity.

Ho‘olaule‘a featured a special area for kids - affectionately known as “Keikiland” - to enjoy the fun event as well, with inflatable bounce houses, a giant water slide and life size bubble blowers. Kids were even lined up to participate in the dunk tank. For the parents, it was evident their kids were having a blast.

A number of UH Hilo’s student organizations played a major role in Ho‘olaule‘a. The Jujitsu club, as well as Circle K, participated in this year’s Ho‘olaule‘a in order to showcase their club, as well as boost fundraising.


Originally spearheaded by the UH Hilo Student Organization (UHHSA), Ho‘olaule‘a has come a long way since its debut in 1995. Leaders like Juvette Kahawaii, of the Student Activities Council (SAC), know how much planning is put into such an event. Kahawaii served as the event chair, and describes her involvement in Ho‘olaule‘a:

“My main responsibilities were to work with student leaders that were a part of the CSO’s of our university. We coordinated this family event. This is our 22nd of having it. It was started by aunty Luika. She has passed but it’s an honor to continue having an event like this. It’s an opportunity for UH Hilo to reach out into our community and bring us all together and have lots of fun. There are some ups and downs here and there, but it’s great to know that families have something to do on the weekend and it’s a safe environment. There’s also lots of delicious food and there’s many people who are willing to work hard to put on such an event.”

Putting together Ho’olaule’a typically takes many months of planning and organizing, says Kahawaii.

“We started since September to plan this. However, there are times when planning starts in August or they bring up the topic of it. They get the thought into people’s minds to get them interested in helping with such an event. It does take a lot of effort, energy, sweat, and tears, maybe some blood here and there but it’s for the benefit of everyone. It’s a lot of work but it’s a great experience. Personally, this has been a huge milestone in my life and my leadership skills because not only was I able to take ten people in a room to help me coordinate this but I ended up moving hundreds of people in my own way. We’ve recruited volunteers, clubs and vendors in the community to help put this on. It’s not just me who put this together its many other people whether it was the person who drew our logo or the person who helped us come up with the theme of our event. There’s definitely a lot of planning and I wouldn’t have done it without everyone here.”

As noted by Kahawaii and her colleagues, volunteers were essential to ensuring Ho’olaule’a ran as smoothly as it did. Many of them worked behind the scenes; they set out tables and chairs, picked up trash, and even took down lights at the end of the night. One of the many that helped out was Emma Tiffan. A freshman and agriculture major, Tiffan was eager to help with her first Ho’olaule’a.

“My favorite part is meeting new people and other volunteers. I also like being a part of the event like listening to the music and being able to serve the community. Overall it’s a great experience,” Tiffan said.