The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), the state’s tourism agency, recently presented The Merrie Monarch Festival, Polynesian Cultural Center and Hilo Hattie with its 2013 Tourism Legacy Awards during the 2013 Hawaii Tourism Conference Legacy Awards Luncheon at the Hawaii Convention Center.
All celebrating 50th anniversaries this year, the 2013 recipients are recognized for their long histories of perpetuating the Hawaiian culture and sustaining a “legacy of aloha” that makes Hawaii a special place to live and visit.
The HTA’s 2013 Tourism Legacy Awards honorees were:
The Merrie Monach Festival is a nonprofit organization that honors the legacy of King David Kalākaua, who inspired the perpetuation of traditions, Hawaiian language and the arts. The week-long festival features an internationally acclaimed hula competition, an invitational craft fair, an art show, hula shows and a grand parade through Hilo town. The event draws nearly 10,000 visitors to the island of Hawaii each year. The festival is the focal point and catalyst that supports and draws an extensive network of instructional hula schools, masters, instructors, researchers and students of all ages who are committed to the perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture. The proceeds from the festival support educational scholarships, workshops, seminars, symposiums and the continuation of the festival into the future.
The Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) opened its doors 50 years ago this fall in an effort to preserve and perpetuate the host culture of Hawaii and all of Polynesia. Since then, PCC has welcomed more than 37-million guests, providing fun and engaging opportunities to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of Polynesian people, their language, food, music, song and dance.
“Hilo Hattie,” Clarissa “Clara” Haili, was known for her true aloha spirit and began her career as a school teacher who sang and danced her way into modern history. She popularized the comic hula style with such tunes as “When Hilo Hattie Does the Hula Hop” and “The Cockeyed Mayor of Kaunakakai.” She legally changed her name to “Hilo Hattie” in 1942, and became a household name in Hawaii and across the nation as “Hawaii's Ambassador of Goodwill.” In 1963, Hilo Hattie opened its first store on the island of Kauai, which has grown into a chain of seven stores across the Hawaiian Islands.
The Tourism Legacy Awards, evolving from the “Keep it Hawaii" program, was established by the HTA to honor individuals, organizations and businesses that perpetuate the Hawaiian culture and traditions.