A busy night at Makakilo Elementary School Thursday as family and friends of the O'ahu pa'u unit gathered to make lei for Saturday's King Kamehemeha Celebration Floral Parade.
The Oahu pa'u princess is Ka'ena Kirkland.
"Luckily we have a big family, so everybody comes out to help," said Kirkland.
It's a lengthy process. After deciding on colors and flowers, the unit gets to work. Members picked most of the parrots, parakeet – birds of paradise – and ti leaf that are used.
It's a well-oiled machine. Everyone has an important role.
"Normally the first people coming in, it's the simple stuff we have to do like wiring all the flowers, wiring this, wiring that," said Kirkland.
Oahu's island color is melemele or yellow.
"We want to try to stay with the yellow because most times when you see O'ahu you don't see all yellow. You see a lot of different colors that kind of go with it. So, we're trying to do all yellow," said Kirkland. "Even the hala, [we're] down to stripping the outer ends to just have the insides."
The wired pieces are bundled together and then the final design is created.
"We have three different bundles. One has basically all yellow and the yellow for that one goes right down the line. So, when you look at the lei you'll have like an orange tinge with yellow. Then you'll have a green, yellow and orange and in the middle is all yellow," said Kirkland. "So, hopefully we'll see how it comes out."
Along with the usual chatter amongst friends, you will hear olelo Hawaii – the Hawaiian language. Five of the seven riders in this unit speak Hawaiian.
"For me, I love it because it's something different. We can relate to more than just riding pa'u. It's part of our culture and it's also something that is part of us," said Kirkland.
The lei, the horses and pa'u riding are all part of the culture.
"It's nice and we feel so proud to be up there, especially when you work this long to get to that part. And, when the day is there you're able to do everything you want to do," said Kirkland.
The parade airs live on OC-16 Saturday at 9 a.m. and then on KITV the highlights will be aired at 4 p.m.