Chrysanthemum Festival canceled for 2020
KAHULUI – The annual Chrysanthemum Festival will not be held in 2020 because of COVID-19.
In addition to concern for the safety of all involved and uncertainty over whether the 68th festival would be allowed in December, the decision also was based on concern for the contestants, including:
The contestants usually come from junior or senior classes of Maui’s high schools. Festival organizers don’t want to add to the uncertainties of the girls’ school year.
The in-person preparation the contestants must do for the event. A feature of the festival is the choreographed dances performed by the queen, her court and their escorts, which requires several weeks of weekly instruction and practice. Safety for the instructors also is a factor.
The queen of the festival is the contestant who raises the most money, through ticket sales, for event sponsor Maui’s Sons and Daughters of the Nisei Veterans.
Proceeds support activities such as historical preservation projects with the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center and annual scholarships. This year, $1,000 scholarships were awarded to ten graduates of high schools on Maui.
The festival is a celebration of Japanese culture, so the decision to cancel this year’s event also considered the entertainers, exhibitors, caterer and other participants.
Planning is under way for the festival to be held in 2021.
The choreography is rooted in the origins of the event. It was created as the Chrysanthemum Ball, a ballroom-dance affair, by the Maui AJA Veterans Inc. as a way to fund its community service in areas such as youth sports and scholarships.
AJA stands for Americans of Japanese Ancestry. The group was formed as veterans returned from Europe and the Asia-Pacific region after World War II. Most of the veterans were Nisei, or the second generation of AJAs.