The first Lei Day was in 1927 and celebrated in downtown Honolulu with a few people wearing lei. From that it grew and more and more people began to wear lei on May 1. We are told that the first celebration and exhibit of lei was at the Bank of Hawai‘i. In 1928, the first lei queen was Nina Bowman. Mayor Charles Arnold crowned Lei Queen Nina Bowman here in Honolulu.
Each year, the lei court is selected from one of the four rotating groups:
18-30 years Nā ‘Ōpio (The Youth)
31-45 years Nā Mākua (The Adults)
46-60 years Nā Mākua ‘Ō‘ō (The Elders in Training)
61 and over Nā Kūpuna (The Elders)
This year (2017) is the year of Nā Mākua ‘Ō‘ō. One lei king/queen and up to two lei prince/princesses will be selected.
Each contestant vying for top honors will be scored on:
- Kumuhana o ka lei (lei making skills - they have one hour to make a lei on site);
- Kūlana Lei (poise and personality);
- ‘Ōlelo Pelekane and ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i (speaking in both English and Hawaiian); and,
- Hula ‘Auana (modern hula).
The schedule for the day is as follows (times approximate and subject to change):
- 9:00 a.m., Opening/Welcome
- 9:30 a.m., Kūlana o ka Lei (lei making)
- 10:45 a.m., Kūlana Lei (poise, personality, speaking in English and Hawaiian.
- Noon, break for lunch on your own.
- 1:00 p.m., Hula ‘Auana
- 2:30 p.m., Announcement of 2017 Lei Court.
This event is free and open to the public. For more information about the 89th Annual Lei Court Selection Event and the 90th Annual Lei Day Celebration, you may visit www.honoluluparks.com or call (808) 768-3041.