You might think that a bunch of people living in the Haiku jungle would be more lackadaisical but the reality is that they can mobilize better than any municipal government. A good example is the Haiku Ho’olaulea & Flower Festival, which benefits the Haiku School and turns 21 this Saturday at the Haiku Community Center.
“This year’s theme is Malama Ke Aloha, which means ‘cherish the love’–and we do,” says Jennifer Oberg, the event co-chair. “We cherish the love and support of our Haiku community for their generosity and kindness to our keiki for the past 21 years. This event brings together people from all walks of life in Haiku–community members, parents, teens, grandparents, part-time residents, alumni of Haiku School and more. If someone has a skill to share and wants to help, we will find a place for them. We are so grateful for all of our volunteers, sponsors, donors and supporters. We could not do this event without them.”
In 1993, Haiku visionaries and Haiku Community Association board members Mike Gagne and the late Ed Silverstein started the event. That year, they raised $700 for the Haiku PTA. Gagne and Silverstein looked at the event as a way to share Haiku’s history, culture and community, so they lined up some crafters, food and entertainment and everyone had a good time. In 2013, the event raised just over $50,000.
“Most of the funds raised help Haiku School through Haiku School PTA,” says Oberg. “Funds provide enrichment programs at Haiku School–art classes with teachers like Susie Speck, Rick Strini and others. Drama with MAPA, music with teachers like Amy Chang and others, creative movement with Maui Dance Council, ukulele lessons for fourth and fifth graders with Kumu Lehua Gibson, science enrichment, as well as drinking water in the classrooms, field trips, classroom supplies, library support and more. Proceeds from drinks and carnival games support Haiku Boys and Girls Club for their after-school programs, which many of our Haiku kids attend. And a small amount, usually around $3000, goes to the Haiku Community Association to fund their micro-grants to the community. They helped with start-up costs for the Haiku School Garden, for example.”
The generosity of the community when it comes to this event is really unprecedented. In fact, several vendors donate all of their proceeds.
“We offer Restaurant Row and Keiki Zone vendors a 50/50 split to help them cover their costs,” says Oberg. “Our 100 percent donors include Life Foods, Flatbread, Mana Foods, Maui Children’s Bookstore and Cafe, The American Windsurfing Tour and Vanity Salon in Makawao. Of course, anything the Haiku School PTA creates for the festival is 100 percent donated to the kids–our PTA Kau Kau, PTA Face Painting Booth, Bouncers, Dunk Tank, Cakewalk, Carnival Games and Mauisaurus Golf. Crafters and farmers pay a booth fee and are able to sell their products at the event. Again, we are a combination of community festival and fundraiser for the kids. We want to support our local businesses and nonprofits, but also we want to make money for the kids.”
Mike Gagne, one of the event founders is still active with the event, and says the HCA wants to fund all the enrichment programs it can for the school and assist the Haiku Boys and Girls Club.
“I always saw the Ho’olaulea as a unifying force for community,” says Gagne. “I have always thought of it as big-when you start from nothing. We had some slightly dangerous events back in the day like the lawn mower race. Now the event has safer, more child-centered activities and is inclusive of everyone. The growth has been gradual until last year when we spent too much but put on a new model of the event and set a pattern that will likely be followed for a while. It’s exciting. HCA wants this to be a catalyst for community action and education. We will continue to protect and nourish the event while providing an institutional memory as old guys like to do.”
The HCA has been busy. This year, they did a big push to get the Kalakapua Playground in Haiku open, and they have a host of other achievements planned. Gagne says the biggest challenge with the event is getting a volunteer workforce to cover the festival’s 450 shifts.
“We have used the association to inform community members of governmental and social events pertinent to them such as pending developments, legislation affecting residents, candidates forums and county communication direct to Haiku residents,” says Gagne. “These include lobbying for a new fire station, helping to secure the Giggle Hill Park 20 years ago by providing pertinent info that made the price one dollar, the usual road repair issues and bikeways. We are currently rebuilding Kalakapua Playground at Giggle hill with a grant of $150,000 from Maui County and fundraising that totals $13,000 within the community. This is being done with almost all volunteer labor and the guidance of a licensed contractor.”
Ho’olaulea will have parking across the street from the Haiku Community Center for $3, and starts this Saturday at 9am. Like last year, this is a green event, and attendees are asked to bring their own water bottles (they will offer refills for a few bucks). Bring reusable bags for purchases, and reusable forks and plates for eating.
“More than singling out one or two people, the thing I want to convey is that there is a team of angels out here who put this thing on every year,” says Oberg. “Imagine festival day with the kids all on the field, having a blast on the bounce houses and dunk tanks and getting their faces painted, and flying overhead is Ed Silverstein with his wings and angels all around, watching over these kids. Might seem a little cliche, but honestly, there’s a lot of heart out here. That’s why I love it so much.”
Maui Children’s Bookstore & Café
Cafe Des Amis
Da Local Banana
Dibs on Da Ribs
Fiji Indian Food, LLC
Maui Wonder 8 Tacos
No Ka Oi Kettlecorn
Nutty Day, LLC
Three’s Bar & Grill
Keiki Zone Highlights
BALLOONS by Art by Riki
BOUNCERS by Haiku School PTA
BUBBLE STATION by American Windsurfing Tour
CAKEWALK by Haiku School 5th Grade Teachers
CARNIVAL GAMES by Haiku Boys & Girls Club
DUNK TANK by Haiku School PTA
FABULOUS FACES by Rachel DeBoer
FACE PAINTING by Haiku School PTA with Tami Ann Lester & Friends
FITNESS FUN by Upcountry Fitness
HAIKU HAIRDOS by Vanity Salon
HAWAIIAN GAMES by Haiku Boys & Girls Club
KIDS CLOTHING COMMUNITY EXCHANGE by North Shore Church
MAUISAURUS GOLF & YO-YO BALLOONS by The Abella Ohana
MINIATURE PONY PETTING ZOO by Toni Martin and Ohana Ranch of Maui
PONY & HORSE RIDES by Melissa Sowers and Maui Ponies
SHAVE ICE, COTTON CANDY AND POPCORN by Haiku School PTA