Maui News

C&K, John Cruz Headline at Whale Day Saturday

February 18, 2011, 11:45 AM HST
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Last year, Michael King enjoyed the huge tent housing the remarkable Curtain of 36,000 Origami Whales. Photo by Sonia Isotov.

By Sonia Isotov

One of Maui’s biggest and best-attended festivals, Whale Day takes place on Sat., Feb. 19, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Kalama Park in Kihei.

Maui loves its visiting humpback whales, which is why Maui residents and visitors turn out in large numbers for Whale Day, a free all-day celebration that takes place each year in mid-February. This year marks the 31st anniversary of Whale Day and its nonprofit host, Pacific Whale Foundation.

Whale Day’s line-up of musical entertainment will include Cecilio and Kapono, John Cruz, Anuhea, The Throwdowns, Marty Dread, George Kahumoku, Jr., and Gail Swanson with Pat Simmons of the Doobie Brothers, who will perform from the big oceanside stage.

“This is an opportunity to see and hear some of Hawaii’s most beloved and noted musicians, including a four-time Grammy award winner and several Hoku award-winning performers, all in one place – for free,” says Greg Kaufman, President and Founder of Pacific Whale Foundation. “Many people bring their beach chairs and make a day of it – they don’t want to miss any of the great acts.”

Whale Day Parade 2010. Photo by Sonia Isotov.


Kicking-off the Whale Day festivities is the Parade of Whales at 9:00 a.m. This hometown Kihei parade begins at Alanui Keali’i Drive, proceeds north along South Kihei Road, and ends at the Kihei Library on Waimahaihai Street. The theme is “Be Whale Aware.” Don’t miss the life-sized costumed sea characters, and floats of all shapes and sizes created by local organizations.


Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa will serve as the official Grand Marshal. Whale Day’s opening ceremonies immediately follow the parade, with fun guaranteed for all ages. For children, there are inflatable rides, cotton candy, shave ice and games at the Keiki Carnival area.

Made-on-Maui Artisans’ Fair Nearly 100 local artisans, including jewelers, basket makers, potters and more will display and sell their wares in one of Maui’s largest handicraft fairs of the year.

Shoppers will also find great buys on artwork, gift certificates for activities, restaurants, shows, golf and more at the Silent Auction. The bidding begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m.


Arrive hungry. Whale Day offers an array of tantalizing dishes, from Sustainable Crab Sliders to Pad Thai to Pulled Pork Sandwiches, and more, all served at food booths hosted by popular Maui restaurants Participating restaurants include Alexander’s Fish and Chips, Amigo’s, Beach Bums, Down to Earth, Famous Dave’s BBQ, Maui Masala, Mulligan’s on the Blue, Orchid Thai, Shaka Pizza, Sharky’s Family Fun Center and more. Pacific Whale Foundation will also serve hotdogs and a BBQ lunch plate. Delicious desserts will be offered by Banyan Tree Deli & Bakery, Cold Stone Creamery, Da Local Banana, Maui Kazowie, Paradise Tropical Ice and Zia Maria Gelato.

A farmer’s market will feature fresh Maui-grown produce from O’o Farms.

The Wild & Wonderful Whale Regatta is an opportunity to win free roundtrip airfare for two between the U.S. Mainland and Maui. Based on the popular “rubber ducky” races found across the U.S., the Wild & Wonderful Whale Regatta features little rubber whales doing the racing. Environmental Displays Whale Day’s Eco-Alley offers booths by Maui nonprofits, businesses and government agencies that are working to protect the environment.

You’ll find displays by Sierra Club, Maui Tomorrow, Whale Song Project, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, Hawaii Nature Center, Marine Mammal Response Team, Community Work Day, Haleakala National Park, Surfrider Foundation – Maui Chapter, Friends of Haleakala, RZ Electric Inc., Hawaiian Skylights and Solar, Maui Ocean Center, Community Emergency Response TEAM (CERT), Pacifica Indigenous Grandmothers Council and other groups.

Crafters come out in full force to celebrate Whale Day. Photo by Sonia Isotov.

The pathway through Eco-Alley will take you to a huge tent housing the remarkable Curtain of 36,000 Origami Whales. The curtain features long strings of origami whales arranged with an artist’s eye for color, in neat orderly rows so you can wander through it. Artist, conservationist and pioneering snowboarder Peggy Oki will be on hand to tell you about the curtain and her work to stop illegal whaling.

Whale Day is a green event. All food products at Whale Day will be served on biodegradable and compostable products provided by Maui Chemical. Help make Whale Day even more eco-friendly by bringing your own reusable plates, cups and utensils. Bring your reusable water bottle to any soda booth and receive a free refill on water.

Whale Day is all about having fun. But it’s also a fundraiser for the marine education programs offered to Maui schoolchildren by Pacific Whale Foundation’s marine education team. They include eco-friendly tidepool explorations, whalewatch field trips, Ocean Camps, career mentoring programs and more, all with the purpose of inspiring students to develop a greater interest in science, and to encourage children to become involved in helping to protect our planet’s oceans.

“With school field trip budgets being cut back, we are doing our best to subsidize as much of the cost as possible of getting kids outside to experience the ocean environment,” said Merrill Kaufman, education director at Pacific Whale Foundation. “There is also a huge demand for the next generation of scientists in our country, and there is no better way to get children more interested in science than with up-close, hands-on learning.”

The easiest way to attend Whale Day is to take advantage of the free parking lots and free shuttle. The lots are at Hope Chapel, at 300 East Welakahao Road, and at Azeka Place Mauka, by First Hawaiian Bank, (on South Kihei Road, just north of Lipoa Street). Handicapped parking is available at Kalama Park. You can also take the bus! The Maui Bus offers the Kihei Islander #10 bus; get off at Keala Place and South Kihei Road. 

Whale Day is part of the Maui Whale Festival, a six month-long celebration of Maui’s humpback whales. Upcoming festival events include a special VIP whalewatch cruise with Greg Kaufman on Sunday, February 20, and the Great Maui Whale Count on Saturday, February 26. To learn more, Volunteers are needed to help at Whale Day. Sign up for a 3 and a half hour shift and you’ll receive a free Maui Whale Festival t-shirt. To volunteer, call 249-8811 ext. 2 or visit.

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