Last year, I spent May 1 at the Kauai Marriott in Kalapaki celebrating Lei Day. It was busy. Early morning, lei makers dropped off their creations, approximately 85 different lei made with colorful flowers and all kinds of greenery. The creativity and artistry was quite admirable. Once logged in the many different categories and displayed in the open-air courtyard, the judges arrived, inspecting each lei, choosing their favorites. At 11:00 a.m. the public rolled in—by the dozens—to view and bid on their favorites. Not only was this event a contest, it was fundraiser, too.
Officially, it’s called the Walter & Irmalee Pomroy May Day Lei Contest presented by the Kauai Museum and the Hawaii Tourism Authority. It used to be held at the Kauai Museum, but they moved to the hotel during a year of remodeling. Once the remodeling was complete, the event stayed at the Marriott. While I miss the historical and cultural atmosphere of the museum in downtown Lihue, it’s more spacious at the hotel and makes viewing more pleasant. It’s nice to be outdoors, too.
After lunch, winners were announced to gasps and cheers and jumping up and down. My friend Kathy won a category and her big bear of a husband cried, he was so proud.
This year would have been the 40th. Alas, it fell to COVID-19, like so many other events and gatherings. I heard people were still celebrating, still making lei. Only this year, lei were draped on mailboxes as a way of showing aloha to first responders. I thought about making a lei. We have plumeria and puakenikeni trees with blossoms regularly used in lei making. However, I didn’t have enough.
Instead, I went to Limahuli Garden, way down to nearly the road’s end on the North Shore. On the way, I saw a lei of red ginger draped on a mailbox, making me wish I had ginger to string. (Note to self: Plant red ginger.)
The garden is currently closed, but I was checking on some ‘ōhi’a. A couple months ago, a tree tested positive for Rapid ‘Ōhi’a Death. I also had a sign to deliver. But, really, l wanted to spend the afternoon in nature, among flowers, and the ‘ōhi ‘a were blooming in grand style. Red. Salmon. Even the prized yellow, known as lehua mamo.
What a treat: I had the entire garden to myself. The weather wasn’t perfect. It was misting off and on and fierce winds blew. At one point, I stood under a tree with ‘ōhi’a blossoms all around me, a natural-made lei. It was a perfect day.
Hawaii added a single new case to the new total of 619 cases. Kauai remains at 21. Meanwhile, some more visitors were arrested for violating the quarantine, and at least three protesters were arrested at the “Reopen Hawaii” demonstration in front of the State Capitol. According to the Honolulu Star-advertiser, they call the restrictions an “illegal lockdown.” Five others were issued citations for their violations of the state’s emergency rules. About 200 participated.