King Kamehameha Day was proclaimed in 1871 by King Kamehameha V, to honor his grandfather, King Kamehameha I. The first King Kamehameha Day was on June 11, 1872, and it was one of the first holidays to be proclaimed when Hawaii became a state in 1959. June 11, 2011 will be the 95th annual King Kamehameha Day in Hawaii.
June 11, 2016 marks the 100th Annual King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade. It will begin at 9 am in downtown Honolulu. Floats, horse riding units and vehicles, all decorated with flowers, will procession their colorful way to Queen Kapʻiolani Park at the base of Diamond Head, at the end of Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki. An all-day Hoʻolaulea (really big party) begins at 11 am, filling the park bandstand with entertainment until 4 pm.
Many monarchs are honored in Hawaii. King Kamehameha is the most celebrated monarch of all, with multiple statues. The sculpture in Honolulu is one of the most photographed landmarks. Photos were used in the opening scenes of the original 1970’s Hawaii Five-O and in the new Five-O series, possibly hundreds of travel magazine pages and an un-counted number of Trip to Hawaii story-line sit-coms and television commercials.
The Original Kamehameha Statue How the king’s likeness got to the spot is interesting. In 1878 Walter M. Gibson, a member of the Hawaiian government wanted to commemorate the 100-year arrival of Captain Cook to the Hawaiian Islands. The legislature appropriated $10,000 for the project. Gibson contracted Thomas R. Gould, a Boston sculptor who had never been to Hawaii, Gibson sent photos of Polynesians. Still, the face came out a bit Roman. In 1880 the sculpture was sent to Paris to be cast in bronze, too late for the 100th anniversary of Cook’s arrival.
The Original Kamehameha Statue resides in Kohala on Hawaii Island.
A Second Statue Was Quickly Re-castCompleted In 1883, the statue was on its way to Hawaii when the ship sunk off the Falkland Islands and the statue assumed lost. A second statue was quickly re-cast. Meanwhile, some Falkland-islanders found the original and sold it to the captain of the wrecked ship. He, in turn, sold it to Gibson for $875. Both statues arrived. The first stands on Hawaii Island in the king’s birthplace, Kohala. The second is in Downtown Honolulu.
The second Kamehameha statue resides in Downtown Honolulu.
A Third Statue for StatehoodThe third statue was commissioned when Hawaii became a state. It was unveiled in 1969 and stood in the United States Capitol beside the Father Damien of Molokai statue. It was the heaviest of all the statues, weighing in at 15,000 pounds. When Barack Obama was nominated as a candidate for president the statue was moved from a dark back corner of Statuary Hall to a very prominent position in Emancipation Hall in the new visitor center.
The third Kamehameha statue proudly stands in Washington D.C.
Hilo, Grand Wailea Resort and Las VegasThree more castings are located in Hilo on Hawaii Island, at the Grand Waialea Resort on Maui and, finally, there is a statue in what is often called the 9th Hawaiian Island, located at the Las Vegas Hawaiian Marketplace.
Do you know where any other statues are? Have you been to a Kamehameha Day parade? Share your experience with us below in the comments. King Kamehameha conquered all islands except one, name that island?