Pa’u Parade honors history, culture and loved ones | News, Sports, Jobs

Haiku resident Leila Kalani Larson, Princess Kaua’i for the 2022 Pa’u Parade, sits on her horse while wearing a purple dress and pa’u adorned with Kaua’i’s island flowers, mokihana. — Photo courtesy of Leila Kalani Larson

Haiku resident Leila Kalani Larson will honor several traditions, people and values ​​as she rides her horse today in the Pa’u Parade, a Hawaii-wide event celebrating 150 years of history , culture and heritage of King Kamehameha.

Adorned in purple colors and the Mokihana Island Flower, Larson will travel through historic Lahaina as Princess Kauai and as a symbol of the spirit of her late mother – Nancy Larson died of cancer in 2014 .

“Every year I ride in honor of my mother-in-law,” said Larson, who has represented the islands of Hawai’i, O’ahu and Maui in previous parades. “It’s that moment when you wrap yourself in the beautiful pa’u, ride your horse and walk down Front Street representing each island, seeing all the beautiful smiling faces of all the kupuna and keiki waving back – it’s priceless .”

Larson, 38, recalled how his mother used to take him and his brother to the parade when they were children in the city of Makawao.

“As the beautiful Pa’u riders rode their horses down the street, my mother always looked at me and said, ‘Look Leila, it will be you one day'” Larson said Tuesday.

Tia Perdido Ampong of Kula prepares lei during the 2021 Pa’u Virtual Parade. This year, she will ride in person on Front Street in Lahaina as Princess Ni’ihau. — Photo courtesy of Tia Perdido Ampong

Now mother to 14-year-old Zion, who helped with the preparations, Larson said the tradition of being a pa’u princess “means so much to me.”

“It is a great honor and pride for me to represent all the islands as a Pa’u princess”, she says.

While picking flowers and making last-minute preparations on Wednesday, Pa’u Commissioner Moani Whittle Wagner said it was also a special year as the Pa’u Parade returns to West Maui after a two-day hiatus. years amid the COVID-19 pandemic – it took place virtually last year at the Oskie Rice Arena.

“We are delighted to be back on Front Street”, said Wagner, adding that she is honored to help celebrate Hawaiian culture in perpetuity. “There’s going to be so much aloha.”

The theme this year is “E Ola Ka Mo’i Kamehameha,” or long live King Kamehameha.

“As a horse owner myself, I appreciate all the hard work and dedication it takes to be a Pa’u rider,” she says. “From traveling around the island to picking flowers, making all the horse and body collars, grooming our horses and training them for the parade.”

Dressed in white shells and pupu, Kula resident Tia Perdido Ampong, 37, will ride as the Princess of Ni’ihau.

“The memories created with my pa’u ohana and the knowledge and experience we gain from the whole pa’u process, which includes preparing for the parade of our horses, picking and collecting flowers and supplies for six horse collars and body collars, and making them with our family and friends – a truly invaluable experience,” Ampong said on Tuesday. “The purpose of this event is to honor the memory of the Kamehameha lineage and to represent your island with pride and Aloha.”

The Ni’ihau unit decided to opt for more earthy and natural colors, such as the ‘a’ali’i of Upcountry, the ti leaves of Ampong’s aunt’s house in Haiku, the woodland roses of the Hui No’eau and the palapalai of the Laoa farms, Ampong said.

“I am also honored to wear a Ni’ihau shell necklace that was given to my father-in-law by his Ni’ihau friends,” said the University of Hawaii Maui College graduate. “It is truly an honor to be able to represent the island of Ni’ihau. It is known as the “Forbidden Island” and is an invite-only destination where they maintain their commitment to preserving its proud Hawaiian heritage.

“I have always been very interested in visiting the island to experience the uniqueness of the island and its people.”

For Rachel Emma Kahealani ‘Uweko’olani-DeCoite, 43, who has traveled all eight island units, learning more about each island over the years “has been very special to me and my ohana.”

This year she will be Princess Kaho’olawe, an island where she had the pleasure of spending time in the 90s doing hula.

“One year we traveled to Ni’ihau to get a feel for the island and all its beauty.” she said Wednesday. “But doing Kaho’olawe with my sister Kalei ‘Uweko’olani means more to us than any other year because we dedicate our ride to our mother, Mrs. Susie ‘Uweko’olani, who passed away three years ago.

“She was a real inspiration to all of us,” she added. “But we know she will be with us on Front Street.”

Although originally from Kahului, ‘Uweko’olani-DeCoite currently resides in Utah, so being back in Maui for the weekend is what she’s most looking forward to, including “seeing everyone’s faces in Front Street” and “showing the love we all share for pa’u.”

To help further bring out the gray-themed color of Kaho’olawe and the flower of hinahina island, viewers will see ‘Uweko’olani-DeCoite wearing royal blue, as well as decorating clothing with a’ ali’i, spanish moss, hydrangea flowers, buttonhole, kakalaioa, laua’e and cymbidium orchid.

The 2022 Pa’u Court also includes Princess Desiree Ku’ulei Akimseu of the Island of Hawaii, Princess Moloka’i Melanie Malia Pali-Kaneakua, Princess Maui Sofia Kaleimamo Salvatierra, Princess O’ahu Daphne Emmalani Lukela and Princess Lana’i Robin Lynn Baylosis.

Makawao residents Glenn Berce and his wife Linda Uradomo-Berce have been chosen to be the 2022 Grand Marshal and Queen Pa’u respectively.

Although there are certain criteria for becoming Grand Marshal and Queen, candidates are also those who have “contributed to the success of the Pa’u Day Parade and Kamehameha, rodeo and cattle drive on Maui”, said Wagner.

An accomplished horseman and cowboy, Berce is a life member of the Maui Roping Club and has won multiple Hawaii State Championships in reining, cutting and workhorse classes.

He also served as president of the Maui Fair’s Livestock and Poultry Show for over 35 years. He volunteers as a live auctioneer of livestock, fine dining restaurants, hotels and trips for local charity fundraisers.

Growing up in Upcountry Maui, Uradomo-Berce has a passion for horses and Western riding, and has participated in numerous Maui Horse Show Association shows, volunteered for the Maui Fair Livestock and Poultry and has represented the islands of Kaho’olawe, Lana’i and Ni’ihau in Pa’u units over the years.

The couple’s daughter, Gabrielle Celestine Berce, will participate in the parade as the reigning Miss Rodeo Hawaii.

The parade will begin at 9:45 a.m. along Front Street from Kenui Street to Shaw Street. Front Street will be closed to vehicular traffic.

During this time, the ho’olaule’a will take place under the Lahaina Banyan Tree and will feature free exhibits, keiki activities, a pa’u parade and awards, food stalls supporting non-profit organizations communities, made-in-Maui artisans, music and hula.

The festivities are to last until 5:30 p.m.

Wagner said that all collected lei, pa’u and other foliage are used to decorate the ho’olaule’a stage, while the remaining pieces are offered to kupuna, families or dismantled and returned to the ‘aina.

“We want to welcome everyone safely to Lahaina for this event,” said event coordinator Daryl Fujiwara in a press release. “Sacred Hearts turns 160 and one of our partners, Lahaina Restoration Foundation, turns 50 and the party itself in honor of King Kamehameha turns 150 – lots to celebrate.”

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at

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