The sometimes sleepy town of Hilo on Hawaii Island will celebrate Chinese New Year with artists, crafts people and cultural practitioners on Saturday, February 9. Community leaders and supporters have come together with the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association (DIA) to resurrect the 11th Annual Hilo Chinese New Year Festival that had been cancelled. One of Hawaii Island’s favorite family events, the free festival takes place from 9 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Mo`oheau Park & Bandstand located across from the Hilo Farmers Market.
The sights, smells and sounds of celebrating this most auspicious and significant Asian holidays may be smaller this year but will still showcase many of the Hilo-style cultures and traditions of the season.
Firecrackers will open the event at 9:30 a.m. at the front of the Mo`oheau Bus Station to bless the newly renovated building, which has received much needed repair and accessibility improvements thanks to Hawaii County Department of Parks & Recreation. In Mo`oheau Park Kobudo Taiko drums will pattern the beat and the Okinawan Shi Shi Mai lion will dance and prance among the audience. The Lono Kanakaole Trio playing Hawaiian music and dancing hula will spread the Aloha and invite everyone to look, listen and learn what `ohana means. The Keiki Chinese Costume Fashion Show at 12 noon, always an audience favorite coordinated by festival MC Desiree Moana Cruz, invites children of all ages to dress up and learn about their individual Chinese astrological signs. Keiki who are interested in being in the fashion show should come dressed in their finest attire and sign up at the Information Tent in the park between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. All participants will receive New Year special gifts in appreciation to remind them about the importance of the Chinese culture and traditions and their experience at the festival.
In the Mo`oheau Bandstand at 12 noon, the Hawaii County Band will perform their regularly scheduled concert with an eclectic blend of Elvis, Big Band, jazz, and a new piece, “Gloria” that bandmaster Paul Arceo is looking forward to directing for the first time. Following their performance there will be a special presentation with classical Indian dancer Angel and students offering a Chinese-style dance at 1:30 p.m.
Cultural practitioners, information booths, martial arts troupes, and demonstrations will be found in tents around the park alongside community members selling Hawaiian and Asian foods, arts, crafts and Chinese gift items. Nelson Makua of Na Makua Original Hawaiian Designs will also be on hand selling the Year of the Snake tee shirts. Hilo High School Key Club members are planning a free Keiki Activity Tent so parents can enjoy the festival while their kids get creative. The popular I-Ching booth returns to provide readings to individuals wishing for guidance and wisdom in exchange for a donation, part of which will be gifted to the festival. Donation boxes encouraging community support to ensure the sustainability of the festival will be located at various spots around the park.
The festival honors the late Robert “Steamy” Chow who guided and encouraged the development of the annual event.
The 11th Annual Hilo Chinese New Year Festival is presented by the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association registered as a 501(c) 6 non-profit organization in 1962 and is supported this year by in-kind publicity offered by Ke Ola Magazine, donations of performers’ time and talent, and vendor fees. For more information about the festival visit www.downtownhilo.com or email email@example.com Kung Hee Fat Choy!