Sunday, January 21, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, January 21, 2001

Hula shines through cold rain

By Susan Roth
Advertiser Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Hawaii splashed color on a gray, drizzly inaugural parade yesterday as smiling members of a Mainland hula halau marched and danced down Pennsylvania Avenue in traditional costumes.

About 45 members of Halau Hoomau I Ka Wai Ola O Hawaii, which is based in the Washington area, participated in the parade after George W. Bush was sworn in as the 43rd president of the United States.
Halau Ho'omau I Ka Wai Ola O Hawai'i, based in the Washington area, braved the elements to walk in yesterday's inaugural parade.

Gannett News Service

About three hours after Bush took the oath of office, the parade from the Capitol to the White House began. More than 75 bands and other performers from around the nation formed the procession while another 15 bands stood and played along the route.

The halau marched in front of Bush’s reviewing stand near the White House about 4:30 p.m. Though its musicians were drowned out by marching bands in front of and behind the group, the colorful halau’s upbeat dance steps made a big impression.

Fortunately, they had rehearsed the dances without music because leader Dwayne Manu Ikaika knew that the halau’s guitars and uku leles would be overwhelmed by the surrounding brass and percussion.

First came the halau’s leader, blowing a conch shell, followed by two young men carrying kahili, the ceremonial standards representing royalty. Two young women, in bright green holoku and wearing pikake lei, held a large sign reading "Hawaii, the Islands of Aloha."

Next came Johnny Molina, dressed as an ancient warrior in a ceremonial rain cape made of 500 ti leaves and a ti-leaf lei on his head. Molina was supposed to carry a spear, but security was so tight that it was not allowed.

Under the rain cape, Molina wore little besides a white loincloth. Before the parade, he said: "I’m happy to be doing it, but I know I’m going to be cold. Hopefully, we’ll keep moving. And the cape does keep you warm. It’s like wearing a heavy coat."

Molina said he had searched for a flesh-colored bodysuit, but the color available was more geared toward a lighter complexion. He wound up wearing black tights to protect his legs.

Behind him came several young boys dressed in white, with red sashes, and young girls in muumuu of red and yellow, the colors of the halau..

The dancers and musicians were dressed in white, red and yellow. The men wore orchid leis; the women, kukui nut leis.

Because of the weather, the dancers did not wear hula skirts, opting for muumuu with thermal underwear and matching red turtleneck sweaters underneath.

Most members of the halau are originally from Hawaii, though some merely have "the Hawaiian spirit," according to Ikaika. They live in the greater Washington area and gather Saturdays at a northern Virginia church to practice the hula, guitar and ukulele, speaking Hawaiian and just talking story. It’s an opportunity to learn and connect with the culture they love, especially young people who left the Islands as children.

"We’re thankful that we were chosen to participate in the parade," said Ikaika, who took over the halau last year after the death of kumu hula Mahina Bailey. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, recommended the group to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which chose parade participants.

Most members of the halau are Democrats and some were reluctant to participate in the inauguration festivities, Ikaika acknowledged. He said he persuaded them that their party affiliation didn’t matter.

Cynthia Kee-LaFreniere, a halau member who is originally from Kaneohe but has lived in northern Virginia for the last 20 years, said she was not concerned about the weather: "We’re very Hawaii. We’re shining. We’ll be smiling even if it rains."

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