SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- A beloved festival capturing the spirit of Hawaii returned to the Peninsula this weekend, with relief efforts and prayers focused on the people of Maui in the wake of the firestorm tragedy.
A band of ukulele players dedicated a song to the people of Maui, in a show of solidarity.
This year's Aloha Festival at the San Mateo Events Center is a celebration of Island heritage but it's now taking on a new vibe and mission.
"It reminds me of hurricane Iniki in 1991. We got together to help the people in Kauai. We have to rise up to the occasion and help them again but in Maui this time," said Manley Bush from the Pacific Islanders Cultural Association.
It seems most everyone we found at the festival had a personal connection to the Maui firestorm, including Eve Delacruz from San Jose.
"We have a friend, he died. He died. He got burned in Lahaina," Delacruz said.
Lorna Garcia-DeGuzman was worried about her college roommate's family, who were forced to evacuate during the wildfire.
"They are in shelters, unfortunately. The fire was in their backyard. They had to take shelter in their son's school," DeGuzman said.
The Hawaii Community Foundation is collecting donations for Maui relief. Jerry Watanabe gave $100.
"It was on the news what a disaster it was over there. They need help out there," Watanabe said.
Hawaiian Airlines is asking customers to donate their airline miles to help transport Red Cross volunteers to Maui.
"Trying to donate our miles, anything we possibly can. Our hearts are with Lahaina, and the rest of the Hawaiian Islands -- anything we can do, anyone can do to help," said Brian Fisher from Dublin.
The spirit of the islands remains steadfast at this beloved festival, reflected in food and dance.
Jose Rosario grew up on Oahu but Lahaina is where his heart is. He recently returned from Maui just days before the wildfire started. He said the Lahaina community is hurting but help is on the way.
"Everybody's affected, all the people who work there busting their butts every day. The people who we support and give love back to, this was special today. Everybody's banding together to help out," Rosario said.
The Aloha Festival returned to San Mateo after a four-year COVID-19 hiatus.
If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live