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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA celebrates fourth annual Polynesian Festival

Jordin O’Connor
Jordin O’Connor / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Hawaiian and Pacific Islander club hosted an annual luau by the stage area of the Mall on Saturday April 20th.

The UA celebrated its fourth annual Polynesian Festival with music, games and Hawaiian food on the UA Mall Saturday evening.

Festive music and groups of Polynesian dancers representing Tahiti, Tonga, Somalia and other islands performed their culture’s traditional dances, while vendors selling handcrafted Hawaiian arts and crafts lined the UA Mall with tables. Attendees could enjoy authentic Hawaiian food, games and raffles with prizes such as a Kindle Fire and three tickets to Disneyland, all part of the festivities to celebrate Polynesian Pacific Islander culture.

The goal of the event, hosted by the Hawaiian and Pacific Islander club in cooperation with Mama’s Hawaiian Barbeque, was to bring the community together. The event was public and open for the entire Tucson community to attend.

“Luaus are just a big way in Hawaiian culture, and just Islander culture in general, to bring people together,” said Anthony Basilio, a member of HAPI and a marketing and entrepreneurship senior. “We really wanted to bring the Polynesian and U of A communities here in Tucson together.”

April is considered Asian Pacific American Heritage month at the UA, while nationally, it is celebrated in May.

More than 100 pre-sale tickets were sold and about 200 people attended overall, according to Basilio. The buffet, catered by Mama’s Hawaiian Bar-B-Cue, offered authentic Thai vegetables, teriyaki tofu, sticky rice, barbeque chicken and beef curry.

“It’s really good and not expensive,” said Josh Dudas, a pre-business freshman. “It seems like they care about the community too, so when I buy their food I feel like it’s going to a good cause.”

Vendors and Mama’s Hawaiian Bar-B-Cue said they were pleased to collaborate with the UA for the event.

“A lot of the students that come into our restaurant we get to know by name and get to follow them through their years,” said Samuel Alboy, owner of Mama’s Hawaiian Bar-B-Cue. “Then when they have a project come up or something, they can turn to us for help … I just think a lot of U of A students are from out of state and getting involved in the local community gives them a true flavor of the town. You don’t just feel like you’re coming here for school, you actually get to know Tucson and make a connection.”

Members said the event seemed to be a success, although the club has not yet calculated the results of the fundraiser.

“The thing we wanted to show the community the most is more awareness about the club and Hawaiian and Pacific Islander culture in general,” Basilio said. “We’re really trying to build an experience, a tradition for the whole U of A Tucson community for the years to come.”

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