Having already seen Hawaiian postcards featuring hula girls and surfing-related subjects, today we will begin the third and final chapter in our series of posts remembering Harry Foglietta and his favorite Hawaiian postcard collecting interests – the postcards issued for the Annual Floral Parade and Mid Pacific Carnival. For Harry, this was an easy choice as most of the cards feature artwork of hula girls or surfers, including Duke Kahanamoku, in beautiful chromolithography.
These spectacular cards are special for many reasons and prized by of a wide range of collectors. Among them are those who specialize in Hawaiiana, Hawaiian postcards, expositions and fairs, poster cards and advertising cards. Note that I specified advertising cards. As we shall soon see, these cards were produced specifically to advertise and promote an annual event – as opposed to souvenir cards that were made available to attendees at the event itself.
The poster-style postcards were only issued for eight years, beginning in 1910 and ending in 1917. However, I thought it would be valuable to create a frame of reference that includes the prior events which led up to the annual Floral Parade and Mid Pacific Carnival – the event we remember today.
This necessitated quite a bit of original research which I found to be both fascinating and rewarding. With this fresh in mind, I have decided to take a different approach with this chapter. As we continue to progress through the years, I will let the narrative unfold by presenting numerous excerpts from Hawaiian newspapers and magazines of the time period. This will allow you to experience the rise and fall of the great carnival as the locals and visitors did back in the day.
Nanea i ka hele ana (enjoy the journey)!
Automobiles in Hawaii
Prior to the fall of 1899, Honolulu’s streets were occupied solely by horses, horse-pulled carriages and bicycles. On October 8, Henry P. Baldwin, co-founder of Alexander & Baldwin of “Big Five” fame and at that time a member of the senate of the Republic of Hawaii, invited his friend Edward D. Tenney to go for a drive around town in his new automobile – the first in the Hawaiian Islands.
Predictably, this caused a great deal of excitement and Baldwin’s horseless carriage jaunt was described effusively in the local newspapers. The Hawaiian Star went so far as to predict “In a few weeks they will be as common as vegetable wagons.” While this did not exactly happen, a car dealership soon opened in downtown Honolulu and the number of automobiles in Hawaii steadily increased over the next several years (see Figure 1).
The Merchants Fair
On May 3, 1902, a headline on the front page of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser proclaimed “Merchants Plan a Fair” (see Figure 2). The Honolulu Merchant’s Association was asked to consider a proposal from P. R. Helm: “Gentlemen: I desire to bring to the consideration of M.A. the desirability of some united actions toward securing an influx of people from the other islands to witness the races on the eleventh of June, or the observances on the Fourth of July, or any other special occasion that might seem [appropriate].
“It seems to me that there can be no question but that the gathering of a large number of people from the other islands would tend to a closer and better feeling between Honolulu and the outer islands and would be quite a stimulus to trade.
“Should we decide upon concerted action it would be necessary to select the best available date, arrange for excursion rates and devise entertainments and inducements sufficient to attract the largest number of people”.
After the proposal was read, the Honolulu merchants were found to be “heartily in favor” of such an action aimed at bettering their commercial prospects and a committee was formed to look into the possibilities of the plan.
The committee subsequently worked with the Governor’s office to combine their new Merchants Fair with an already planned agricultural exhibit scheduled for the 3rd week of July 1902. The committee then set out to negotiate reduced rates from the inter-island steamship companies and local hotels as well as preparing a number of attractions, including horse races at Kapiolani Park, boat races in Honolulu Harbor, ball games and “other entertainment [for] all others to whom these sports do not appeal.”
The combined fairs were scheduled for two days, July 28 and 29, 1902. It was a resounding success. According the July 28 Pacific Commercial Advertiser, “Thousands of people passed through the aisles of the Merchants Fair… So great was the crowd that it was impossible for the visitors to be kept in motion…” Conservative estimates of the crowd put it at 5-6,000. The fair was kept open on the 30th and then extended, once again, for a total of four days.
A Carnival in Honolulu?
Immediately following the conclusion of the Merchants Fair, an anonymous visitor from California suggested a carnival should be organized in conjunction with the next year’s fair (see Figure 3). The Pacific Commercial Advertiser printed this well-developed suggestion on July 31, 1902, “Imagine for a moment… what possibilities there are for next year to get up a carnival in Honolulu… in conjunction with next year’s Merchant’s Fair. Start the carnival right now and keep at work on it for a whole year. Why it would be a thundering big scheme and would surely draw many tourists from Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the mainland…
“My Idea would be to take the Capital building square and allow hundreds of pretty booths and sideshows to be constructed there. Have merry-go-rounds, cane racks and all that sort of thing, and have every tree and shrub in the grounds covered with a few thousand colored lanterns. Then I would utilize the street on each side of the square, that is King and Hotel Streets, for a street fair where every sort of thing that these islands can produce could be shown…
“My idea would be to have the carnival last a couple of weeks. On the first day I would have a monster street parade in which all societies, labor bodies, police, fire brigade, soldiers, etc. would be represented… following this could be a parade of Honolulu maidens – for you know you’ve got some of the prettiest girls in the world here… This thing I tell you has great possibilities and [it] would leave many thousands of dollars in the hands of your business people.”
While such an event would not occur for a number of years, the seed was planted in the minds of local businessmen.
Hawaiian Promotion Committee Formed
The second page of the July 25, 1903 Pacific Commercial Advertiser carried this story: “HAWAIIAN PROMOTION COMMITTEE. The Hawaii Promotion Committee representing the Territory of Hawaii, the Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants Association, was yesterday chosen formally as the title under which the Tourist Committee will carry on its work.
“The committee has taken as its headquarters the store room in the Alexander Young building, fronting on Hotel Street… The room has been leased for one year with the privilege of renewal for a longer period.
“The committee selected Thursday as its regular meeting day, and each week the members will gather to discuss the work. Arrangements for immediate advertising and printing were made.”
A related article was carried on page seven of the July 31, 1903 Pacific Commercial Advertiser: “HAWAII PROMOTION COMMITTEE WORK. For the first time yesterday afternoon the Hawaii Promotion Committee met in its headquarters in the Alexander Young Building. The room has been fitted for the proper displaying of Hawaiian pictures and products, and its furnishing will go on at once.
“There was a long discussion of the methods which will be followed in the placing of advertisements in the leading journals, both the literary magazines and papers devoted to special interests, so that every reader of the United States may be reached…”
One of the first orders of business was for the Committee to publish a brochure advertising all the islands had to offer. The brochure totals 24 pages – profusely illustrated with black and white photographs by the leading photographers of the day – plus covers. The brochure was lithographed and printed by the H.S. Crocker Company of San Fransisco and intended to be folded in half for convenient mailing. Topics included “Beautiful Scenery, Modern Accommodations, Surf Boat Riding, Surf Bathing, Surf Boarding, A Volcano Which Is Tame, The Hawaiian Band, Cliff At The Pali, Kauai Is a Garden”, etc.
The last page states, “If you are contemplating a Journey for the future, then write at once for information. Among the Hawaiian literature issued by this Committee, which it would be delighted to place in your hands, are the following: ‘Beauty Spots of Hawaii’, ‘Hawaii’s Business Life’ [and] ‘Hawaiian People and Legends’. All are beautifully illustrated and your address on a postcard will mean that you get any one desired.” The back cover consisted of a lithographed collage of Hawaiian scenes – prominently featuring a scene of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head – and an inset verse by Mark Twain (see Figures 4, 5 and 6).
Humble Beginning – 1904 Floral Auto Parade
The very first floral auto parade was held on Thanksgiving day, 1904. A total of 18 decorated vehicles participated and competed for three prizes related to “originality of design and beauty”. The procession formed at Union Square in downtown Honolulu at 10 AM and made its way to Kapiolani Park in Waikiki.
At the park, the Hon. A.S. Cleghorn (one of the three judges) presented the prizes which were in the form of silk flags. After this, the cars returned to Honolulu and paraded through the city.
This relatively small but eye-catching event managed to capture the attention and imagination of many mainland magazine editors, including Rambler Magazine, who subsequently contacted the Hawaii Promotion Committee asking for information and photographs with which to write feature articles in their publications.
Information about the Hawaii event was included in a lengthy article on floral parades published in the June, 1905 issue of Rambler Magazine (see Figure 7). The article stated “In the Hawaiian festival roses, carnations, purple blooms of the bougainvillea, fern and ti, multihued leaves of the croton, the bright yellow acacia with streamers of ribbon and a number of tiny flags combined to make a picture of tropical luxuriance…
“One of the most talked of, and, in fact, one of the most superb carnivals which has been given, was that which took place in Honolulu, Hawaii, last Thanksgiving day. Not only did Americans and Europeans participate in it, but Hawaiian royalty, also.
“The rendezvous was in the square fronting the the executive building, at one time the palace of kings and queens.” The article continued with six paragraphs describing the decorated vehicles.
“…More truly floral was the car of C. W. C. Deering, the body of which entirely hidden in masses of carnations, asters, and chrysanthemums, there being carried in front, extended on trembling wires, a splendid peacock driven with white ribbons by doves perched on top of a lantern. The decorations of this car cost $250.00 [1904 dollars].”
On August 25, 1905, both the Hawaiian Gazette and the Evening Bulletin ran articles reporting on a Promotion Committee meeting. The latter was titled “PROMOTION COMMITTEE HOLDS OPEN MEETING AND CONSIDERS PLANS, It was decided to offer a sliver trophy for an automobile floral parade to be conducted along much the same lines as governed last year’s very successful affair. During the past twelve months the number of machines in Honolulu has grown greatly and it is estimated that where there were eighteen autos a year ago – there are forty-five today.
“The cup will be offered conditionally on twenty-five or more entries being received. After the last celebration, illustrations of the festival appeared in several mainland magazines, the Territory [of Hawaii] securing much good advertising thereby.”
The Floral Parade is Moved to Washington’s Birthday
For some reason which I cannot determine (perhaps there were not enough entries) it was decided very late in the game – sometime between September 8 and November 9 – to cancel the second annual floral parade which had been planned for Thanksgiving day of 1905 and reschedule it for Washington’s Birthday (February 22) of 1906.
If you remember Hawaii’s history at the turn of the 20th century from Remembering Harry Foglietta – Part Two, Queen Lili’uokalan’s monarchy was overthrown by a group of American-backed businessmen in 1893. The Republic of Hawaii was established in 1894 and the Islands were annexed to the United States in 1898. Hawaii was administered as a territory from 1900 until 1959, when it became the 50th state.
All during the territorial period, wealthy haole businessmen longed for statehood. This leaves us to wonder if this very public demonstration of appreciation for the “Father of Our Country” had political undertones.
The fact remains – the date was changed. This has often resulted in much confusion regarding the early history of the event, with the net result being the first floral parade in 1904 has become all but forgotten. We will see that even the official advertising materials published by the Hawaii Promotion Committee in later years state the Floral Parade began in 1906. What actually began in 1906, is that the event was held on February 22.
The November 9, 1905 Pacific Commercial Advertiser stated that “It was first suggested that the parade take place on January 1. [Then] it was shown that tourists would not be plentiful here just then, and it was proposed to hold it on Washington’s birthday.”
A prominent headline of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser on December 2, 1905 read “FLORAL PARADE WILL BE HELD ON FEBRUARY 22, The Floral Parade is to be held on Washington’s birthday, February 22. This was decided upon yesterday at a meeting of A. Young, Gerrit Wilder and A. Gartley, the committee selected by the Promotion Committee to take this matter in mind. The committee decided on three divisions, as follows:
- – Automobiles.
- – Carriages and other vehicles.
- – Horseback riders.
“The latter divisions will be one of the most spectacular seen on Honolulu’s streets in many years, for it is hoped to have in the procession a large cavalcade of riders wearing the old-time Hawaiian pa-us of the most brilliant colors. There are scores of fine riders among the women of Hawaii and this opportunity is certain to draw out a big crowd of them” (see Figure 8).
Posters Were Printed for the 1906 Event
We will spend a great deal of time discussing the Floral Parade and Mid Pacific Carnival posters in this series of posts. The reason being they form the basis for the artwork reproduced on the smaller post cards, mailing cards (I will come back to this later), poster stamps, programs, etc. that were all distributed by the Hawaii Promotion Committee to advertise these events.
Unfortunately, very few posters have been recorded from these events – I believe less than ten for all years combined. Until now, there has been very little information available to collectors about the posters.
Most collectors have long believed that the earliest poster was issued for the 1910 event – the first time a full-blown carnival was combined with the Floral Parade (at least one example has been recorded). It turns out that posters were printed starting for the 1906 event. To my knowledge, no examples of the 1906 poster have been recorded.
An article discussing Promotion Committee matters in the December 27, 1905 Pacific Commercial Advertiser has a subsection titled “FLORAL PARADE POSTERS, The secretary announced that he had taken up the matter of getting out large single sheet posters in colors to be distributed all over the mainland, and especially the Pacific coast, calling attention to the floral parade.
“He had cabled to San Fransisco to get prices. The work is to be done at once. The secretary was authorized to get out such posters. It will be illustrated with a picture of some sort connected with the pa’u riding feature and will have considerable lettering, telling what the festival is like. Other wording will be devoted to the fine bathing found here all winter, etc.”
A subsequent article in the December 30, 1905 Pacific Commercial Advertiser followed up with “The two-color posters advertising the coming fiesta on Washington’s Birthday will be spread all over the Pacific Coast, from Vancouver to San Diego, in the next two weeks. Posters will also be sent to to different railroad centers and they will doubtless be given conspicuous display not only on the Coast, but in the east as well.”
An article in the January 3, 1906 Evening Bulletin read “Honolulu’s mid-winter floral parade is to be extensively advertised in the States… Secretary Wood of the Promotion Committee [said] that he was writing every Chamber of Commerce and Commercial Club throughout the western States and in addition sending them posters which will be displayed. The poster represents a woman on horseback dressed in a pa’u… Altogether Secretary Wood will send out more than 1,000 posters.”
On January 7, 1906 The Pacific Commercial Advertiser amended this number upward: “Two thousand posters calling attention to the coming Floral Parade, February 22 will be sent to the Coast by the [steamship] Siberia today.”
The 1906 Floral Parade
The February 14, 1906 Pacific Commercial Advertiser reported “Thirty-nine automobiles have been listed with President J.A. M Candles of the Honolulu Automobile Club to appear in the Floral Parade on Washington’s Birthday, and it is believed seventy-five pa-u riders will form a special cavalcade accompanied by cowboys…
“It is believed there will be something of a shortage in the flower market on Washington’s birthday as all the pau-u riders must of necessity have numerous leis to make their riding outfit complete.”
The February 22, 1906 front page headline of the Hawaiian Star read “FLORAL PARADE A GREAT SUCCESS / CHEERS FOR PA-U RIDERS, The first of what is intended to be an annual celebration of Washington’s Birthday was given today and was a great success – crowds everywhere – there was much enthusiasm and a splendid pageant.
“It was a great day for Honolulu. The Promotion Committee’s inauguration of what is intended to be an annual celebration of Washington’s birthday, could have asked no better day, no greater success, no more widespread interest in all classes of the population, no greater enthusiasm among those who participated in the parade, and no more unique, striking, or picturesque a feature to individualize the celebration in Honolulu, and make it separate, and apart from the pageant of other places, than the Pa-u riders…
“It seemed like the entire course of the parade, from Thomas Square down King street to town, out Beretania street and Waikiki road to Kapiolani Park, was solidly lined on both sides the entire distance… The Pa-u riders, of course, were the magnet and center of attraction. This revival of an old custom… was a happy thought of the Promotion Committee.
“The Promotion Committee has scored a success. It has inaugurated an annual pageant which out to prove seductively attractive not alone to visitors from afar but to our own people.”
The February 22, 1906 Evening Bulletin reported “It is not many cities that can present a parade combining so many different [and] interesting features as this one…
“Splendid Auto Show. It would be almost impossible to out-do the tasteful effects in the decorations of the automobiles, which passed before the eyes of the throngs of interested people yesterday. The automobiles led the parade and all along the line, as one elegant car after another passed, the crowd seemed to think each was the most beautiful, and greeted it with cheers.
The decorations of the automobiles, made evident the interest that leading people had taken in trying to make the parade the grandest thing of its kind that was ever seen in Honolulu, or for that matter anywhere else” (see Figure 9).
The February 22, 1906 Pacific Commercial Advertiser spoke of one of the star attractions of the event, nine beautiful girls that were sent by Portland, Oregon to ride in the parade, “The nine Oregon girls sent to Hawaii by the Portland Daily Journal arrived yesterday afternoon on the S.S. Sonoma and as soon as they neared the the Oceanic dock they gave their new travel yell much to the delight of the assembly there. At the same instant the New Zealand football players gave vent to their terrific, awe-inspiring Maori battle cry.”
“The much heralded Oregon girls [were] selected through a newspaper voting contest… The Webfooters were met outside the harbor by a delegation of Portlanders… presented with leis, taken to the Hawaiian Hotel where they will be guests during their stay, and then to the Capital grounds. Here they posed for their pictures on the front steps and beneath the palms in the grounds” (see Figure 10).
Honolulu Businessmen are Inspired
The businessmen and citizens of Honolulu of were very proud of their accomplishments and inspired to build the event into an even bigger world-class tourist attraction. The February 25, 1906 Pacific Commercial Advertiser ran an article titled “LESSON THAT WAS LEARNED FROM THE FLORAL PARADE, After all has been said and all opinions expressed, the fact remains that the Floral Parade on Washington’s Birthday was one of the most brilliant spectacular affairs Honolulu has witnessed since the days of the monarchy.
“It was an achievement which should be world-known as the Mardi Gras of New Orleans, the carnivals of Nice, Venice and Florence, the flower fiestas of California and the cherry blossom season of Japan. The Floral Parade – although it should be known by some typical Hawaiian name which will stamp it as conspicuously as the Mardi Gras – was an achievement accomplished almost without previous trial, save that given on Thanksgiving Day a year and a-half ago, and that the second annual parade  will overshadow the one just past will be [left up to] the supreme effort of whoever may be in charge…
“Thursday’s parade was in the nature of a rehearsal for the Floral Parade of 1907… The pa-u section showed to moderns how Hawaiian women in the old time rode horseback on festival occasions. To the old-timers riding horseback was a luxury, a time to ‘show off’. Color was a necessary adjunct in the showing off and the women then vied with each other in making the most gorgeous display. The pa-u skirt became the vogue here as the long riding-habit did among Europeans and Americans…
“In the days of the monarchy, when royalty drove out in state on afternoons, when the Royal Hawaiian Band – the same organization which played on Washington’s Birthday – was playing in one of the parks, the Pa-u riders came out in force. Emma square was a favorite place to show off, and between concert numbers crowds of horsewomen in gorgeously-colored pa-us rode around and around the park, and the more the steed pranced the greater the admiration of the multitude.
“With the fall of the monarchy and the withdrawal of royal patronage, the custom fell into disuse, and only through the efforts of the Hawaii Promotion Committee has the picturesque custom been revived” (see Figure 11).
The 1909 Floral Parade
the 1907 and 1908 Floral Parades easily surpassed those which preceded it. This now brings us to the 1909 event – a major leap forward. The headline on the front page of the January 20, 1909 Hawaiian Star read “PLANS FOR AN ELABORATE PARADE / GREATEST MILITARY DAY FOR HONOLULU. Washington’s Birthday, Monday February 22 will not only be the day of the fourth great Floral Parade in Honolulu, but it will be the greatest military day the city has ever known.
“T.H. Petrie, who is in charge of the carnival of flowers and the gorgeous procession which will then be brought about, has the assurances of the Army and Navy heads that they will do everything possible to add to the success of the occasion…”
The Carnival Idea is Revisited. The January 23, 1909 Pacific Commercial Advertiser ran a fairly small article on page five discussing the possibility of a carnival to be held in conjunction with the 1909 Floral Parade. Headlined “FLORAL PARADE STREET FAIR”, the discussion was more than likely a delayed follow-up to the anonymous proposal printed in the Advertiser in 1902, “Today the members of a special committee named by Director Petrie, of the Floral Parade, will interview a number of merchants of the city with a view of learning what support can be can be expected for the proposed evening fiesta for Washington’s birthday.
“The idea of the committee is to see if a section of downtown streets can be given up on that evening for two or three hours to maskers and carnival revelers, when confetti, horns and paper steamers can be used without limit; when the public can be invited to take part in costume in an event on the lines of the Christmas Eve celebration…”
An article in the February 16, 1909 Pacific Commercial Advertiser indicates that a carnival was, in fact, held in conjunction with the floral parade in 1909, “Everything points to the success of the evening part of the Floral Parade program, the street carnival and the colonial ball. Almost without exception, the merchants along the carnival streets intend to decorate their stores and boom the affair, while the arrangements for the masquerade ball at the [Alexander] Young [Hotel] are going ahead without a hitch.
“The affair promises to be even bigger than was first hoped for, many of the leading society folks of the city having interested themselves in the work of making it a success. A Mardi Gras prince and princess will attend the ball and there will be souvenir prizes given for the best costumes.
“Walter Dillingham is to be the master of ceremonies, assistance to be given by a committee of other well know young men. The grand march will be at 9 o’clock, prior to which hour many of the costumers will take part in the gaieties of the street fete.”
Floral Parade Posters Attract Attention. Once again, lithographed posters were used to promote the annual event. I have found two newspaper articles which mention the 1909 posters. The first was short and rather hidden on page 8 of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser on February 3, 1909 and was headlined “MANY TOURISTS ON THE MONGOLIA, H.P. Wood, secretary of the [Hawaiian] Promotion Committee, has been advised that two tourist parties will arrive on the Mongolia this month, one from Los Angeles and the other from Chicago. Mr. Wood states that both parties are en route to witness the Floral Parade on Washington’s birthday…
“The handsome Floral Parade posters designed by by Viggo Jacobsen, have been displayed all over the mainland and are said to have attracted much attention.” Jacobsen was a local artist who is perhaps best remembered for designing the seal of the Republic of Hawaii.
Jacobsen based his design on the Kingdom of Hawaii coat of arms used during the reigns of King Kamehameha III, King Kalakaua and Queen Lili’uokalani. Beneath the wording “Republic of Hawaii” is the date 1894 in Roman numerals – the date the republic was established. Approved by President Sanford B. Dole, it was is use from 1896 to 1901 (see Figure 12).
A second, longer article was featured prominently on the front page of the February 11, 1909 Hawaiian Star and was headlined “INCREASING EVIDENCES THAT HAWAII”S PROMOTION CAMPAIGN IS HAVING BIG RESULTS, The following is Promotion Secretary Wood’s report for the current week:
“Chairman and Members of the Hawaii Promotion Committee, Gentlemen: – Word from the Coast by the last steamer was to the effect that the distribution of the Floral Parade Poster was progressing satisfactorily.
“Our distribution agent, Mr. J. Walter Scott, writes under date of January 29th, ‘Do not worry about the posters; they are being well displayed on this Coast. I have been hammering at them ever since the day of their arrival’.
“Mr. William Ellis, one of our Honolulu boys, writes from Helena, Montana, in part as follows: ‘Just a few lines to let you know how surprised I was yesterday to see the Honolulu Floral Parade Posters displayed out here in the Middle West and you can bet that I asked the Railroad people for a few lithographs and placed some in my hotel, also one in the theatre lobby and in such other conspicuous places where I thought they would do some good for Hawaii.”
The report then made mention of various newspaper articles from around the western U.S., such as in the Los Angeles Evening News of January 26th,”Many Angelenos are planning to attend the Honolulu Floral Parade to be held on Washington’s Birthday. A special feature will be pa-u riding in which sport the native women take great delight”. It concluded with a pat on the back from Mr. H.K. Gregory, assistant general passenger agent of the Santa Fe Railway at San Fransisco,”I am pleased to see the that the work of the promotion Committee is showing such good results.”
Although no examples have been recorded, we now know that Floral Parade posters were printed and distributed for the events held from 1906 – 1909. Additional materials were printed as early as 1909 – serving both as advertisements and as souvenirs – for this annual event that was growing rapidly in terms of size and prestige (all of which are very collectible today).
According to the OFFICIAL SOUVENIR [of] HAWAII”S ANNUAL FLORAL PARADE (see Figures 13 and 14), “The presence of eight troops of the Fifth U.S. Cavalry on the Island (over 600 men) this year, added to the impressiveness of the celebration. Four troops, headed by the mounted band, led the procession…
“Automobiles Section. At the present writing Honolulu owns over 300 automobiles, and while the forty or more in line were more than in any previous parade, it was disappointing to the members of the committee in charge. But there could be no criticism of the cars that were entered (see Figures 15 and 16).
“Hawaiian Princesses. The idea of having the several islands of the group represented by a princess has been a feature of Honolulu’s great fete day for several years. This year each of the eight islands had such a representative in person of a beautiful girl of native blood, costumed in the long glowing skirt and other regalia of the days of the Hawaiian monarchy (see Figure 17).
“The Pa-u Riders. Sixty-five native women on horseback, made up this unique feature of the 1909 parade. Each wore the pa-u, or old time native riding skirt, of brilliant and striking coloring. To visitors to the Territory [of Hawaii], this feature of the parade was one of the most interesting of all” (see Figure 18).
The Carnival Was a Huge Success
In a harbinger of things to come, the Evening Bulletin announced on February 23, 1909 that the carnival element of the festivities was very well received, “Carnival night in Honolulu was a great success, and was carried out with a swing and a go that made everything seem to be in order….
“A tremendous crowd gathered around the main city block, and simply swarmed along Hotel, Fort and King streets. The Young Hotel block was a seething scene of humanity.
“The crowds came piling into town from all the suburbs and by 7:30 it was almost impossible to move along the sidewalks. All automobile traffic was suspended and… the streets proper were given up to the festive throng.
“The first appearance of a quartet of masqueraders was the signal for great cheering and laughter. Three men and one ‘lady’ composed the troop, and the endeavors of the ‘lady’ to dodge the high wind which insisted on disturbing ‘her’ abbreviated skirts, were most ludicrous. This group entered into the fun of the evening with great gusto, and one of their turns – that of two stepping to the band music, right around the block – was immense.”
The article continued with several more paragraphs describing the carnival revelry and then reported that many people in the crowd made their way into the Park Theatre which showed pictures of the Floral Parade on the screen, “tinted as to life”. Then it was on to the Alexander Young Hotel’s roof-top garden, where everyone danced well into the night.
Although they could not know it at the time, the four masqueraders actually signaled the beginning of one of the grand annual celebrations of the early 20th century – the Mid Pacific Carnival. An event that very quickly became so so lavish and enjoyable that it would draw huge numbers of visitors from around world for years to come.
More often than not, these visitors were thoroughly enchanted not just by the Floral Parade and Carnival – but also by Hawaii’s climate, lush beauty, clear blue water, fresh fish, palm trees, volcanos, hula girls and surfers – thus helping to secure the island’s reputation as a popular tourist destination.
The businessmen of Honolulu prospered and the Hawaiian Promotion Committee created an abundance of exquisite Mid Pacific Carnival advertising pieces that have captured the attention of collectors for over 100 years now, especially my friend, Harry Foglietta.