NOIRLab Celebrates Hawai‘i’s Hula Tradition at Merrie Monarch Parade
NSF’s NOIRLab staff join Maunakea Observatories join in the celebration at the annual Merrie Monarch parade
29 April 2022
Every year, with the exception of the past two years because of the pandemic, the Big Island community celebrates the tradition of hula in Hawai‘i with the annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. Hula halau (Hula schools) come from all over Hawai‘i and the world to Hilo to compete in what is the world’s most prestigious and largest hula competition.
As part of the week-long festivities, the Merrie Monarch parade attracts participants from near and far to share aloha and the spirit and beauty of hula. As in past years, the international Gemini Observatory, a Program of NSF's NOIRLab, participates in the parade with the Maunakea Observatories (MKOs). Staff decorate a float and walk with it during the 3-kilometer (1.8-mile) parade through downtown Hilo, handing out astronomy-themed candies for keiki (children). This year’s parade was held on Saturday 23 April 2022 and attracted over 60 MKO staff and families who walked the parade route with about ten NOIRLab staff. Thousands of spectators lined the parade route.
Assistant Science Operations Specialist at NOIRLab/Gemini Observatory, Charlie Figura, was among the participants and commented,"it was very encouraging to hear loud cheers, clapping, and words of support for the observatories as we made our way along the route. It was wonderful, I'll definitely do that again."
NSF’s NOIRLab(National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory), the US center for ground-based optical-infrared astronomy, operates the International Gemini Observatory(a facility of NSF, NRC–Canada, ANID–Chile, MCTIC–Brazil, MINCyT–Argentina, and KASI–Republic of Korea), Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC), and Vera C. Rubin Observatory(operated in cooperation with the Department of Energy’s SLACNational Accelerator Laboratory). It is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with NSF and is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. The astronomical community is honored to have the opportunity to conduct astronomical research on Iolkam Du’ag (Kitt Peak) in Arizona, on Maunakea in Hawai‘i, and on Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachón in Chile. We recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that these sites have to the Tohono O'odham Nation, to the Native Hawaiian community, and to the local communities in Chile, respectively.
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