Hundreds attend Aloha in the Park

Polynesian dancers perform during the annual Aloha in the Park event held at Dry Creek Park, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. CONTRIBUTED BY CAROLE GROSCH

Soft breezes and beautiful weather greeted the free fifth annual Aloha in the Park celebration at Dry Creek Park on Saturday, Oct. 6.

“Our hula school has been hosting this event since 2014,” said Joydee Vicencio-Padua, director of Halau Hula I Ka La (Hula School in the Sun). “We’re excited to celebrate the warmth of the Aloha spirit. Each year, we bring more and more people from all over central California. Everyone is ohana (family) today!”

In Hawaiian, the meaning of Aloha forms the guidelines of how to live with love, peace and compassion. The more you express your love and compassion for yourself and those around you, the more those emotions return to you.

Hundreds of people, many carrying blankets, chairs and shade umbrellas, arrived at Dry Creek, ready to make a day of the festivities. Children, parents, dogs on leashes and babies in strollers all enjoyed the music’s rich flowing rhythms.

“I love Hawaiian music, it’s so upbeat and peaceful,” said Rosa Ortega, from Sanger. “We brought some snacks, but will probably end up taking most of it home. The food here is better than what we brought.”

The family-friendly event included many food and retail vendors such as Leilani’s Shaved Ice, Maui Hawaiian BBQ, Naynay Filipino Flavors and Abuelitas Pan Casero. Local retailers sold Polynesian-themed items, including leis, health and beauty products, clothes and jewelry.

Entertainment included Halau Hula I Ka La dancers, Adornments of Praise performers, Hula Ohana of Fresno and singer, Leilani Grace.

Students of Bushido Kai Karate-Do Martial Arts gave martial art demonstrations to an enthusiastic crowd. Children were able to win prizes and visit a face painting booth.

“Mahalo (thank you) to all who came out today … the volunteers, vendors, performers, everyone. It was a wonderful day,” said Vicencio-Padua.”We’ll see everyone again next year.”