This post is not about lauhala, but we're all wearing pāpale lauhala so it kind of counts?
In my last post I mentioned that I would help wrap pāʻū at the Kailua-Kona King Kamehameha Day Celebration Parade. Things changed. I was asked to ride with the Daughters of Hawaiʻi unit and it is very difficult to say "no" to Barbara Nobriga, my former Napua O Holo Lio 4-H Club leader. Turns out, the "Daughters" unit was the first pāʻū unit in the parade line up so I was not able to help wrap other riders. Fortunately, there were SO MANY behind the scenes people helping make the parade a success. Just the mounted units alone require well trained horses, people to groom and saddle the horses, drivers with trucks and trailers to haul the horses, riders, lei makers, people who care for the pāʻū regalia, pāʻū wrappers, and the mounted roving Marshalls who look out for the safety of the horses, riders, and public.
People often don't realize until they actually go through the experience that the pāʻū preparations start weeks before the actual parade. For some, it starts months in advance. It is a huge time commitment. Planning the type of lei, where to find the necessary "official" flower(s) of the island they are representing, gathering the materials, logistics for caring for the foliage and then caring for and transporting the leis. Having or knowing someone with a walk-in refrigerator is really nice. Horse leis are big. If one is lucky enough to have other people do all this work for them then... yay! I digress.
Barbara Nobriga lent me a beautiful level headed horse to ride. The English saddle is from when I was in high school (doing the youth show thing) but I needed a new saddle pad as the original one was thread bare. Literally. It was bought in the 1980s after all. To have bodyweight consolidated to the small surface area of an English saddle sitting for 3+ hours straight, the horse's back needs appropriate padding. Hence the splurge on a high quality saddle pad.
Lisa and Cara wrapping me. Cara rode past years but this year she helped wrap and then headed to her previously scheduled commitment. I admit it looks like an awkward pose for her, but she was in action.
The view from my seat. Don't worry, I fixed the wayward ti leaf to re-cover the pool noodle base. "Back in my day" of riding pāʻū (1994 to 2004-ish) we tried to keep everything biodegradable. The times that we did "haku" horse leis, we used burlap bags, cotton rope, etc. It was a personal choice that had drawbacks like cotton stretching when wet, the weight, not making the wili tight enough, or only wili and not doing a half hitch so "bundles" fell out (IYKYK), and the burlap shifting, etc. I told Cara, "I'm a pāʻū dinosaur!" Using a pool noodle as a base seems a lot more convenient as it is a firm foam backing, lightweight, and rope can be threaded through the puka. I hear the pool noodle method is the standard now.
My mom took this picture. Kimi and I bringing up the rear of our unit and Barbara Nobriga, a roving Marshall.
EH and I shortly after I unsaddled and "my" horse was loaded in its trailer. It's been over 20 years since I rode in a pāʻū unit that represented an island (pāʻū dinosaur!), but apparently it's still ingrained to be like, "I'm going past the pāʻū collector, want me to take your stuff?" as riders were actively dismounting and caring for their horses.
I forgot to take pictures at the Huliheʻe Palace Hoʻolauleʻa afterwards. There was live music and hula, various vendors, food booths, and displays of some of the horse leis from the parade. I ended the day on our couch, with some party-mix bought from the Daughters' Bake Sale Booth, grateful that we had a safe ride through town celebrating our mōʻī.