Bay Area Aloha Festival set to continue as planned Saturday, despite Maui wildfires

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Saturday, August 12, 2023
Bay Area Aloha Festival set to continue as planned Saturday
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On the heels of the devastating fires in Hawaii, the Bay Area Aloha Festival is still going on as planned on Saturday in San Mateo.

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- On the heels of the devastating fires in Hawaii, the Bay Area Aloha Festival is still going on as planned on Saturday in San Mateo.

It's happening at the San Mateo Event Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will include live music, 50 arts and crafts vendors, 12 food booths and several booths from different community organizations.

As relief efforts begin for wildfire victims across Hawaii, there's a different tone to the kickoff of the Bay Area Aloha Festival on Saturday.

"From our hearts though, we feel for them back home," said Cecila Slade, Owner of Slade's Hawaiian Wear.

RELATED: Maui death toll rises to 67, Lahaina residents had little warning before flames overtook town

Slade is a vendor visiting from Las Vegas who is selling authentic Hawaiian clothing.

She says, it's more important now than in years past to come together.

"And for this, happening at this specific time with what's going on back at home, it really brings us together, to help each other and to get to hear about that. Because, a lot of people are trying to donate and give and help our family members back home," she said.

"Absolutely breaks my heart, all of the islands are beautiful and it's just unbelievable when we see it, but they need all the help they can get," said Shirley Goo, owner of Goo Enterprise.

RELATED: Flash drought, invasive grasses, winds, hurricane and climate change fuel Maui's devastating fires

Goo and her husband David are selling handmade rice-bag clothing.

They say people come year after year to get immersed in Pacific Islander culture, everything from making lei's to learning how to hula and fish netting.

She expects this year to be no different with the amount of support already flooding into Hawaii.

"People come because they love the culture, they love the dancing, they love the food, and we see lots of people over and over again. They just come back year after year and that's a real blessing," Goo said.

PHOTOS: Heartbreaking images show devastation from Maui wildfires

Manly Bush, vice president of the Pacific Islanders' Cultural Association says, for him, this is personal.

"I have family over there, in a place called Makawao, so I have a stake in this to ensure that we help those people that are in need there," Bush said.

While they don't have a fundraiser set up to support wildfire victims yet, their main sponsor, Hawaiian Airlines, will be there collecting donations of airline miles.

And he's hoping to embrace the Aloha spirit and use this festival to push for more.

"The network can be vast, once we find out where they're at, who's willing to donate their time, where the hula groups are at, where the musicians are at and they may be able to initiate fundraising activities," he said.

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