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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 2, 2010

For visitors, lei makers, May Day's 'a gift of joy'

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Roy Benham of Liliha teaches hala lei making at the 83rd Annual Lei Day Celebration at Kapi'olani Park.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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The 83rd Annual Lei Day Celebration was in full flower yesterday at Kapi'olani Park, with more lei than ever submitted in the history of the annual event, organizers said.

In all, more than 215 lei were submitted for judging, said Barbara Lowe, city Department of Parks and Recreation Wai'alae Complex supervisor. Nearly a quarter of all the lei judged at this year's event were made by children.

Last year, 191 lei were submitted.

Lei from wili to yarn to humupapa were evaluated by a team of judges at the annual festival celebrating May Day.

"The lei contest has a lot of meaning and tradition behind it," Lowe said. "Lei-making is a work of art."

At the park, Hawaiian performers sang on the bandstand and under a tent. Kūpuna showed visitors and residents the art of lauhala weaving, hala lei flower cutting and wili lei-making.

For 10-year-old Makamae Tamaribuchi, yesterday's Lei Day celebration was about family and shave ice. She and her brother and mother came from the Big Island to support their auntie who was a member of the Lei Queen and Court.

"May Day feels like a gift of joy," Tamaribuchi said. "It feels good to be out here with my family."

The winning lei will be on display today at Mauna 'Ala, 2261 Nu'uanu Ave., from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., and later at the Kawaiaha'o Church at Lunalilo's Tomb.