(HONOLULU)--Festivities for the weeklong Flag Day in Hawai’i kicked off Sunday during a church service in Waipahu, with the committee set to honor service members of Samoan ancestry during a special military tribute Saturday morning, July 26, at Ke’ehi Lagoon Park.
Public inquiries about this year’s “Flag Day” – where the raising of the flag of the United States of America on Tutuila, the main island in American Samoa, is celebrated – have been pouring into tautalatala.com in recent weeks.
The flags will be raised Saturday, the final day of Flag Day week, according to a program provided to tautalatala.com by a member of the committee.
Several hundred members of Hawai’i’s Samoan community joined Atoa-O-Ali’i Sunday, July 20 at the Lighthouse Outreach Center Assembly of God Church located in Waipahu for the prayer service that kicked off the 49th Annual Flag Day Commemoration in Hawai’i.
Seventh-Day-Adventist Rev. Silia Senerivi led Sunday’s church service. Participating church congregations included Lighthouse and Solid Rock Fellowship Assembly of God led by Pastor Alualu and Faletua Mrs. Levaai Alualu.
THE WEEK’S SCHEDULE (MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY)
Food booths, entertainment and sports tournaments began today at Ke’ehi. Each day begins with a 7:30 a.m. prayer service. Food and craft booths open each morning, following prayer.
Volleyball will be played Monday through Friday 4 to 7 p.m. Youth flag football and rugby begin Wednesday (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and continue through Friday.
Samoan church youth groups will present spiritual performances to open the entertainment segment each evening, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Bands and listening music are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Cultural arts groups representing various Pacific ethnic groups in the state will perform throughout the week, each night 7 to 9 p.m.
According to a Facebook status posted by a commitee member, the schedule is subject to change. Here are the cultural arts line-ups for each night, according to the program. Monday: Mitamitaga O Samoa and Fonoti’s KPT Polys. Tuesday: Kahuku Pacific, Tuvalu Church and fire knife skits. Wednesday: Ekalesia Fa’alapotopotoga Kerisiano Samoa-Kalihi, Fonoti’s KPT Polys and Maohi Nui Polenesia. Thursday: Tonga Sisters, Lafi taualuga and Fire Knife Champs. Friday: a performance by Mitamitaga O Samoa and the Miss Flag Day Hawai’i Pageant.
FLAG RAISING CEREMONY, SATURDAY, JULY 26
Saturday’s events begin at 7 a.m. with the arrival of VIPs and special guests. An ‘ava ceremony scheduled for 8 a.m. will be followed by the Grand Parade during which a traditional Samoan welcome will be offered by Atoa-O-Ali’i, a council of Samoan orators and chiefs in Hawai’i that hosts Flag Day.
Pastor Joe Hunkin, leader of the Lighthouse Outreach Center Assembly of God Church in Waipahu, will lead the devotional that succeeds the traditional welcome. Remarks will be given by Father Sebastiano Chacko, administrator and pastor of the Holy Family Catholic Church off Nimitz Highway. He is also Pastor of the Tautua Fou Samoan Catholic Organization in Hawai’i.
The devotional will be followed by the raising of the flags. According to the program, four flags will be raised: the flag of the United States of America, the Hawai’i flag, the flag of American Samoa and the flag of the Independent State of Samoa. The military tribute will follow the raising of the flags.
Two unnamed speakers will talk before the program breaks for lunch and cultural arts performances. Performing arts groups scheduled to perform Saturday are: Kahuku Pacific; Maohi Nui; Tihati Productions; Tuvalu Church; Fealofani Club from Farrington High School and Samoa Mo a Taeao.
Final remarks will be given by Atoa-O-Ali’i President High Chief Alo Lupeomatasila F. A. Williams. Presentation of gifts and awards will precede the closing prayer by Pastor Hunkin. The retrieving of the colors will close Flag Day week.
According to a spokesperson for the Flag Day committee, invitations for the Saturday program have been sent to Hawai’i’s Samoan judges, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, Sen. Mike Gabbard and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
An invitation has also been sent to American Samoa Gov. Lolo Moliga. The committee spokesperson said Lolo informed them that if he is not able to attend the event, he will send someone to represent the American Samoa Government.
Tautalatala.com inquiries left with the local ASG office seeking comments on who will represent ASG, have not been answered. Last week, tautalatala.com was informed by an employee at the local ASG office that the messages were forwarded to ASG-Hawai’i Office Director Afimutasi Gus Hannemann. Tautalatala.com has not received a response.
Atoa-o-Ali’i, announced last year Flag Day would be held July 6-12 at Ke’ehi. There were several date changes since the first announcement and in a letter dated June 18, 2014, participants were informed that the event was moved to July 20-26.
The committee states that two days prior, they were “informed by the City and County of Honolulu Permits Department and the Honolulu Police Department that they will move our Samoan Flag Day from July 6 – July 12, 2014 as scheduled, to Sunday, July 20 – July 26, 2014, due to the Hawaii "HOE" canoe race that occurs the first and second week of July.”
Due to numerous public inquiries tautalatala.com has received about Flag Day this year and the date change, we are seeking to confirm this reason for the date change with the City and County of Honolulu. Tautalatala.com has contacted the Department of Parks and Recreation Director’s Office and the Mayor’s Communications Office. Tautalatala.com awaits an official response from the Communications Office.
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