A Taste of Kalihi to the rescue
By Tiffany Hill
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Tiffany Hill
Jason Pascua hopes to see people dancing down the streets of Kalihi on Sept. 8.
That is when Pascua and hundreds of volunteers will hold the first A Taste of Kalihi event, similar to the popular food and entertainment events held annually in Honolulu and Kapolei.
"Through the years, there was a perception of Kalihi going downhill because of a lot of violence and crime and things like that," said Pascua, the event marketing chairman. He is also the vice president and director of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce.
"We felt that it was something we needed to do to help (the community) out to clean it up."
One of the highlights will be an attempt to break the record for most people dancing the Electric Slide at the same time, Pascua said.
Pascua said the majority of immigrants coming to Hawai'i from the Philippines first settle in Kalihi.
"And what do Filipinos usually do at the party?" said Pascua. "The first song they play is the Electric Slide."
Pascua said the main purpose of the event is to help revitalize Kalihi's business district and re-establish a sense of security and well-being throughout the community. A Taste of Kalihi will be held along Colburn Street near Dillingham Plaza from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The event committee hopes to have a turnout of 15,000.
In addition to dancing, the event will feature food and product booths from dozens of Kalihi-based businesses.
"We have entertainment that will draw a younger crowd but also adults," said Jack Legal, president of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce and coordinator of the event.
Legal said Mayor Mufi Hannemann will also perform, as the revitalization of Kalihi is one of the mayor's top initiatives. Legal said the city has supported the event, including donations. The event board had a zero budget when planning began in February, but it hopes to raise $40,000 by month's end.
"Mayor Hannemann wants to recapture the image that he used to know when he was growing up in Kalihi," said Legal.
The majority of the volunteers needed for A Taste of Kalihi are coming from the community's Weed and Seed program. Half of the proceeds from the event will benefit Weed and Seed, while the remaining half will go to the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawai'i Foundation.
Legal said residents used to have a great amount of pride in the community, "but drugs and violence have kind of ruined that image."
He believes that events like A Taste of Kalihi are key components to reverse that trend.
"If you think about it, there are so many good products that come out of Kalihi," he said.