Courtesy of the Wailuku Community Association, the first Friday of every month is cause for celebration in Wailuku. From discounts on food and products to live entertainment, First Fridays brings the community together for a great evening of making new memories and reminiscing about the past.
Like most people born on Maui, the first breath that I took filled my lungs with Wailuku air. My first home was nearby—a small two bedroom place that my parents shared with my aunt and uncle. It was walking distance from my paternal grandparents house, which was the same house that my dad grew up in.
My dad was a Wailuku boy. My childhood is filled with memories of my dad telling tales from his hanabudda days. Wild tales filled with adventure—swimming in rivers, running the streets, riding skateboards down from Iao Valley. I always pictured my dad and his friends like brown-skinned Huckleberry Finn’s—finding trouble were they could and always weaseling their way out of it.
As a kid, my grandma would take me to National Dollar which is where the Maui Academy of Performing Arts studio is today. National Dollar sold the weirdest stuff and I loved it. We would always leave with something. My favorite purchase was a pair of beaded velvet slippers. They were red and hard to wear, but I thought they were awesome.
I remember going to a little store that sold trinkets and magic tricks on Market Street. I don’t remember the name, but it was near the old Hamburger Mary’s. My aunt took me there for my birthday one year and I chose a box of capsules that exploded into colorful paper flowers when you dripped water onto them.
Then there was Fujiya’s—a little Japanese restaurant that was a few doors down from where Bohemia Boutique is now. They had the best miso soup. We’d go there for dinner whenever family from Oahu came in.
Over the years, Wailuku has changed. Nowadays there’s Cafe Marc Aurel which has great coffee and the best hummus and tomato bagel on the island and Ohana Cafe—the best place to get a “pick me up”? spirulina blueberry smoothie.
The Iao Theater is still there, but it’s busy and active these days. I can’t remember the last time there wasn’t a cool event either on stage or in the works there. Back in the day, shows were few and far between— with the biggest event being the Rocky Horror Picture Show every October.
Under the Wailuku banyan tree there’s a farmers market with fresh Hawaii produce, and a stage a where local musicians often play.
You can find sushi, get acupuncture, shop for stiletto’s, get your shoes repaired, buy property, eat croissants, have a glass of wine, admire fine art, have your watch repaired, visit a pawn shop, hire a lawyer… You name it and you can find it, eat it or do it in Wailuku.
Now Wailuku even has a monthly blockparty. Last Friday after work, the family and I strolled through Market and Main Street with hundreds of other Maui residents in the first ever “First Friday”? event.
The atmosphere was festive and I was struck at how diverse the crowd was—old timers, keiki, teenagers, local people, mainlanders, people who looked like they had a bunch of money and people who looked like they might be homeless. It didn’t matter. There was no real demographic—it was truly a mixed crowd and there was something for everyone.
I bought two shirts (one for me, one for my daughter) at Bohemia Boutique on a special “First Friday”? sale rack and spent only $15 for a Ripcurl and a Juicy Couture. As I was leaving I heard them popping open a bottle of wine to go along with the platter of crackers and cheese available to customers.
Most shops had hordouvers and wine flowing freely and many had live entertainment. Requests Music had a DJ spinning and a dance troupe breaking it down in the small empty lot next to their shop.
The most popular area seemed to be the corner of Market and Vineyard street where Hawaiian music was played and hula performed. As the sun set, we stood under the Wailuku banyan tree—people watching and relishing in the simplistic pleasure of a beautiful evening—one worthy of adding to my lifelong memories of Wailuku town. MTW