About 85 fresh flower and yarn lei were handmade by Kuakini staff for each resident who participated during the May Day celebration in the Hale Pulama Mau auditorium on May 9. The residents were from the Kuakini Geriatric Care (KGC) Intermediate and Skilled Nursing units, as well as from Kuakini Home and the Pali Adult Day Care Center.
Four staff from the Pali Adult Day Care worked on the lei for one month – gathering ti leaves and then freezing, cutting and weaving them together. Some Pali residents helped make crocheted lei.
“We make the lei for the residents every year because we want to bring back good memories of when they celebrated May Day with their kids,” said Jayne Desamito, Therapeutic Recreation Coordinator for the Therapeutic Recreation Team. “It is very (much) worth the effort.”
As a tradition, different residents are chosen each year to be part of the May Day court. Besides the King and Queen, there are also princes and princesses representing the eight Hawaiian islands of Hawai’i, Maui, Kaho’olawe, Lāna’i, Moloka’i, O’ahu, Kaua’i, and Ni’ihau. The pairs wore haku (head lei) made from yarn and artificial leaves. The ho’okupu (gifts) containing fruits for each court member were wrapped in ti leaves.
Residents Roberta Friel and Filomeno Rivera (photographed on the right) were this year’s Queen and King, respectively.
A senior group from Kaneohe, Na Kupuna O Ko’olau, performed Hawaiian songs and dances during the event. They have been celebrating May Day with KGC residents for more than five years. They also perform for the residents during Christmas and other events throughout the year.
The KGC staff decorated the auditorium with handmade paper flowers and Monstera leaves donated by Kuakini employees and residents’ families.
In Hawaii, May Day is also known as Lei Day. It is a statewide celebration of Hawaiian culture, or the aloha spirit, with music, dancing, food and the giving gifts of lei to one another.