The Tournament of Roses Parade will experience a bit of aloha New Year’s Day, thanks to Leiala Cook and Hawaii Pa‘u Riders.
This will be the second time Cook brings her riders to the Tournament of Roses Parade (their first trip was in 2013).
A total of 16 riders will attend the parade in Pasadena, including Cook as pa‘u queen, nine island pa‘u princesses and six male escorts.
The organization was founded in 1981 by Cook’s parents, John and Lita Cook of Waimanalo, and Cook took over as president in 2003.
“Since then, I started back again with bringing Hawaii Pa‘u Riders to the Mainland parades,” she says.
Her group also has participated in Aqua Festivals in Austin (2011) and Torchlight parade in Seattle (2011 and 2012). Pa‘u riders also participate in the Aloha Festivals Floral Parade, showcasing the eight Hawaii islands, including colors and island flowers.
Hawaii Pa‘u Riders are heading to California not only for the parade, but also to attend an equestrian reception Dec. 28 and Equestfest the following day.
“All the equestrian units can do tricks and drills they cannot do in the parade,” explains Cook of Equestfest. “Hawaii Pa‘u riders will be doing a hula instead of performing tricks.”
Pa‘u riders will be dressed in traditional attire and dance hula to paniolo country music.
Following the Jan. 1 parade, the group will host a 2015 Hawaiian Photographic Workshop at Hart Ranch.
“We will be sharing with the people on the Mainland our art of pa‘u, lei making and Hawaiian culture, and learn photography, as well,” says Cook.
Participants will learn how to dress the ladies in pa‘u because there are no zippers. Everything is held up by six kukui nuts, and according to Cook, there’s an art and method of putting the pa‘u on female riders. The workshop costs $50 and all proceeds will benefit Hawaii Pa‘u Riders Equestrian Unit.
Cook says Hawaii Pa‘u Riders must pay for all of its required expenses, which quickly can add up. Donations are more than welcome so the group can continue to spread the aloha spirit around the world.
Tournament of Roses Parade will air Jan. 1 on the Hallmark Channel.
For more information on Hawaii Pa‘u Riders or to donate, visit hawaiipauriders.org.