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House honors Merrie Monarch Festival’s 50th anniversary


The state House has honored the Merrie Monarch on the historic occasion of its 50th anniversary.

In the early 1960s the late Helene Hale, along with George Naope and Gene Wilhelm created the Merrie Monarch Festival as a way to attract tourists after a devastating tidal wave and resulting economic downturn.

In 1968, the late “Auntie Dottie” Thompson became the Executive Director and inspired by King David Kalakaua’s example brought the best hula dancers throughout the islands to perform in Hilo.

Since then the festival has grown to include a parade, art exhibits, craft fairs, demonstrations and performances as well as the hula competition, and has received worldwide recognition for its historic and cultural significance.

The Merrie Monarch Festival was a cornerstone of the Hawaiian Renaissance of the 1970s and continues to be a catalyst to draw together those committed to the hula and the advancement of the Hawaiian culture.

Thompson’s daughter, Luana Kawelu, current president of the Merrie Monarch Festival, was presented a resolution on the House floor in celebration of this momentous occasion.

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