The place to be in Kihei on Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, was at Azeka Shopping Center - Mauka, joining an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 members of the community at the "Kihei Makahiki" inaugural Kihei Fourth Friday Town Party street celebration.
Once a decision to end Pa'ia's Friday event was made, the Kihei business community, the Maui County Office of Economic Development, the Maui Chamber of Commerce and many local businesses took the opportunity to have a Friday event in Kihei.
Makahiki is a season of peace, games and feasting in Hawai'i and throughout Polynesia. In pre-contact Hawai'i, Makahiki was a time when war was not allowed and sacrifices and thanks were offered to the god Lono. The season is initiated by the rising in the autumn night sky of the constellation Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters.
Food vendors got ready early in anticipation of a big crowd at the Dec. 28, 2012, inaugural Kīhei Fourth Friday Town Party street celebration.
If anything, the peaceful Makahiki event on Dec. 28 proved that Kihei has changed greatly in the last 10 to 15 years and is now comprised of the many elements that go into making a complete community.
As promised by organizers, those attending the Kihei Fourth Friday Town Party were treated to outstanding food choices, art, music, graphics, crafts, nonprofit information, Hawaiian activities and plenty of great shopping deals.
Palmer Spinelli came to the town party with friends from high school. "I'm having a blast," she said, when asked about the evening's event.
Kihei Charter School student Sabrina Donahue said the whole thing was more than she expected. "It's bigger than Wailuku and there's more people," she said.
Indigo Ball, chair of the Kihei Fourth Friday Town Parties committee, was quick to note that the evening's success was due to many long hours of work over more than three months by a committee of 25 partners from the business community.
Ball, a business owner for more than a generation, has also done extensive volunteer work in Africa. Stepping in as chair from her position as vice chair when the original leader was unable to continue, Ball never had any doubt that the evening would be a huge success.
"I was all in from the beginning," Ball said. "I hope that first of all, it brings exposure to all of the community here in Kihei as well as all the local businesses. That's what the whole town party is designed for--to bring economic development to the area so that the businesses get to sustain people, to hire people, we get to feed families and we spread our 'ohana," she said, as Erin Smith and The Throwdowns finished their sound check for the band's appearance later that evening.
For Alejandra Escobar, who has been designing and making jewelry for 15 years, coming to Kihei Makahiki was a good business decision. "When I heard there was going to be a Fourth Friday in Kihei, I decided I wanted to be there," she said, adding, "It's great, I've already sold a lot."
In an email to event organizers, Teena Rasmussen, director of the Maui County Office of Economic Development, wrote, "I wanted to take a moment to thank each and everyone of you for the tremendously successful, first-ever, Kihei Friday Town Party. I was so impressed by how the event was carried out, how professional and organized it was, and most of all, your community supported it big-time. The crowd was awesome! There was something for everyone--visitors, kids and families, adults, foodies, etc., and they were all so appreciative of having something like this in Kihei."
South Maui County Councilmember Don Couch and Mayor Alan Arakawa were both pleased with the turnout.
"This is going to help bring the community together, because you can't help but smile at friends when you see them, and you can't help but have fun when you're seeing other people having fun," said Arakawa. "This is the kind of positive event we want to have so yes, this is going to be a great success and help bring the community together."
Councilmember Couch agreed with the mayor and pointed out that the discussions for a Kihei town party began at the end of his first term.
"We had a couple of people who came to me and said, 'Hey, we wanted to do something for Kihei,'" Couch said. "'There's all of these Friday celebrations and there's nothing for Kihei.' We started meeting for a little bit, and then all of a sudden, Pa'ia went away and the Mayor's Office came to my office and said, 'What can you do?'"
Couch answered them by saying, "We have just the right thing. We hit the ground running."
"The day the mayor's people came to my office, we were at Azeka saying this is what we can do," he added.
"It's amazing how well this came together in such a short amount of time," Couch said at the event, as the crowds enjoying a Kihei Makahiki continued to grow. "The committee did an outstanding job!"
For more information, check out KiheiFridays.com and MauiFridays.com. For information and of video of the Dec. 28 event, go to "KiheiFridays" on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KiheiFridays/posts/124129447753127.