In October 1875, Queen Emma (widow of King Kamehameha IV) decided to take a trek around the islands. She asked John Adams Cummins (a member of the House of Representatives, the son of an English settler and a Hawaiian mother, and also one of Kamehameha V’s closest friends) to organize the trek and to accompany her. (Kanahele)
Called the “Prince of Entertainers” and the “entertainer of princes,” Cummins was a prominent Waimanalo sugar planter known for his generous and lavish hospitality to royalty and commoner alike and for his knowledge and love of Hawaiian traditions.
Cummins made sure meticulous arrangements were in place as twenty men safeguarded the Queen around the clock. The Queen had a head steward who had twenty men under him, ten of whom guarded by day and ten by night.
Then on November 5, 1875, the festivities began. Leading a vibrant procession into Waimanalo were Cummins, Queen Emma and her mother.
“The streets of Honolulu were thronged with people to witness the grand sight, and it would appear that the whole city and many from the country had turned out to see the departure. We rode down Nuʻuanu street and along King and up into Beretania and thence out towards Kamōʻiliʻili.” (Hawaiian Gazette)
A huge celebration took place at Mauna Loke (Cummins Waimanalo home,) the first stop of a two-week “Grand Tour of Oʻahu” by the Queen. She stayed three days, by which time the number present – both invited and uninvited – was in the hundreds.
Cummins had built two large, thatched lanai that seated 200 people. The lūʻau and hula performances were followed by fireworks and rockets fired from the surrounding Koʻolau Mountains at Waimanalo.
Along their circle-island journey, preceding the procession, posters were placed at different parts of the island noting the respective dates of arrival so that local folks would be ready with food, entertainment and accommodations.
After breakfast, everybody went sea bathing or into the mountains to gather maile, ʻawapuhi, ʻohawai and palapalai for lei. Fishermen caught honu (turtle), ʻopihi, ʻokala, uhu, palani, heʻe, lole, ʻohua, manini and kumu. (Krauss)
As the cavalcade moved from Lanikai and Makapuʻu to Kāneʻohe, then to Waikāne, Punaluʻu and beyond, the people continued to arrive with Hoʻokupu (gifts) of food stuffs for the Queen. (Kanahele)
At Punaluʻu, the Queen agreed to ride with Cummins in a canoe; it was tied with hundreds of feet of rope to two horses who galloped parallel to the water for four miles on the beach.
“The Queen left her shoes and stockings and got into the canoe and sat down, holding firmly by the out-rigger. The beach was crowded with people to witness the great sight of a Queen taking a perilous ride in the surf.” (Cummins; Commercial Advertiser)
“We got away for Kahuku … This is the land of the hala tree. We had four very large houses, and all the walks around and from house to house were covered with matting called ‘ue’. Every one took care of his own horse and all were welcome. … At night I had all the torches burning, which lighted up all Kahuku.”
“Our party by this time had increased to over three hundred, and the number of visitors and friends from the neighborhood was very large. At the midnight luau I sent word around among the people that there should be no one leaving here for Waimea or Waialua who had not a wreath of hala-fruit, and that we would leave after breakfast on the morrow.”
“The inhabitants of Waialua district were exceedingly kind to the Queen and her party. … Natives from distant Waiʻanae brought to Her Majesty quantities of their famous fine-flavored cocoanuts, called poka-i. …”
“Assuredly Waialua never saw such a sight before and never will again. Every surfboard in the vicinity was in use, and there were some rare actors amongst this mass of people, who hailed from all parts of the island.” (Cummins; Commercial Advertiser)
Oxcarts loaded with hoʻokupu arrived from the countryside. Torch bearers renewed their stock of kerosene at every Chinese store on the route. Waialua had never seen a procession of 400 women on horseback in bright-colored costumes wearing lei and maile, every face wreathed in smiles. (Krauss)
“(A)fter another great breakfast, the cavalcade was formed for the ride towards Honolulu. It was one of the most beautiful sights ever seen, to look back on the procession from the uplands; and Her Majesty was continually looking back at the bright colored procession which followed us, four abreast.” (Cummins; Commercial Advertiser)
The next day, parties from Honolulu joined the group for a grand lūʻau hosted by Princess Keʻelikōlani at Moanalua. “Here all the Hawaiian luxuries were ready for a final lūʻau on an exceedingly grand scale. I never saw such an abundance of leis made of lehua blossoms, and cannot imagine where they came from.”
“Just as the party were ready to partake of the viands a very heavy shower of rain, accompanied with thunder and lightning, fell, which drenched everyone to the skin. Still we determined to sit through it. I should state that we were here joined by about two hundred people on horseback from town.”
After the lūʻau, they resumed their march towards town. “Her Majesty and the horse were covered with leis of lehua and pikaki, and every one of the seven or eight hundred were likewise bedecked with leis.”
“We led the procession, followed by the whole cavalcade, along King street, up Richards and along Beretania to Her Majesty’s house. All dismounted and bade Her Majesty farewell”. (Cummins; Commercial Advertiser)
“It is unlikely that such (a Hawaiian holiday) could ever be repeated.” (Cummins)
It lasted 15 days.
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