It had a rough start.
The name “Moʻoheau,” which the legislature directed by concurrent resolution without consulting the people of Hilo or their representative in the Legislature, gave rise to a great deal of dissatisfaction. Hilo papers put ballots in their papers and readers were encouraged to cut them out, note their preference and take them to the Board of Trade. (Hawaiian Star, May 7, 1904)
The namesake for the park, Chief Kaʻaiawa I Moʻoheau, is a relative of Admiral George Charles Moʻoheau Kauluheimalama Beckley. (Hawaiian Star, May 7, 1904; Boy Scouts)
Beckley was grandson of George C Beckley (one of “Kamehameha’s Haoles” and first commander of Fort Kekuanohu.) Like his grandfather, “for forty years he followed the sea” and later was decorated with the Order of the Crown of Hawaiʻi and the Star of Oceania by King Kalākaua.
Beckley also received the honorary title of “The Admiral of Honolulu Harbor” from the Association of Masters, Mates & Pilots No. 54″, of which he was a member.
Among other park names suggested were “Ocean Park,” “Seaside Park,” “Hilo Park,” “Recreation Park,” “Lihi-kai (seaside) Park,” “Ponahawai Park,” “Piopio Park” and “Liholiho.” (Hawaiian Star, May 7, 1904)
In defense of the park name, Beckley noted, “I will build in Moʻoheau park at my own expense a pavilion for the band. I claim I have an interest in Hilo second to none. I leave it to the public.”
Moʻoheau Park and Bandstand were dedicated in January 2, 1905. “The arrangements for the opening of the Mooheau Park are practically complete. … It is not expected that the park can be laid out by a landscape gardener before the opening exercises.” (Hawaiian Star, December 12, 1904)
“The trustees of the parks and public grounds of Hilo have intimated a desire to have each citizen plant a tree or shrub in the park grounds at noon, and this, too, may be a part of the program. Visitors will be requested to bring their own garden tools and trees.” (Hawaiian Star, December 12, 1904)
“The dedication of Moʻoheau hall presented to Hilo by Admiral George Beckley, was an imposing and very enjoyable affair. The pavilion was luxuriously decorated with the American and Hawaiian flags and streamers of all national colors. Forests of fern and palm adorned the Interior.” (Evening Bulletin, January 3, 1905)
A frequent user of the bandstand was the Hilo Band (later known as Hawaiʻi County Band;) Moʻoheau Park Bandstand has been the band’s performing home ever since its completion. (Wong)
The band started as a family band in 1883 by brothers, Joaquin and Jules Carvalho, immigrants from the Azores Islands, who made their living as barbers in Hilo. On concert days, they closed up the shop; Joaquin would take the baton to lead the band while Jules played the cornet. After the concert, they would re-open the barbershop and go back to cutting hair. (Wong)
In 1911, “(t)he bandstand at Moʻoheau Park has been converted into a schoolroom by the county fathers, on account of the fact that the accommodations at the Riverside School are inadequate and the County has no funds at present with which to build an addition.” (Hawaiian Star, February 27, 1911)
“This class formerly occupied the basement of the Riverside building and it was so damp in the present weather that it was thought best to make the change.” (Hawaiian Star, February 27, 1911)
A little later, the Waiolama Reclamation Project included the draining and filling of approximately 40-acres in the area between the Hilo Railway tract, Wailoa River, and Baker and Front Streets. It included diversion of the Alenaio Stream. (1914-1919)
Moʻoheau Bandstand also has an ongoing modern history.
When the Republican Party was in control of Hawai‘i from 1900 to 1954, the GOP fielded candidates of Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese and Chinese Hawaiian ancestries, particularly in racially-mixed neighborhoods. (Chou)
The goal of ethnic balance in political slates received major impetus in the Democratic Party, especially in the case of American Japanese veterans of World War II who joined under John A Burns’ leadership. (Chou)
According to Democratic Party lore, in 1954, Hawaii Republicans attempted to foil the growing Democratic Party by reserving all the large public spaces for election-eve rallies. (star-bulletin)
Reportedly, every election since 1954, Hawaiʻi’s Democrats come to Hilo and the bandstand at Moʻoheau Park for the rally to end their primary campaign. (1954 was the year they took over the Territorial Legislature from the Republicans.)
The image shows Moʻoheau Bandstand. I added a couple of other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.