Hawaiian club celebrates culture at annual Luau

Alex La Cesa Practicum Contributor

61st annual Luau took place on campus Saturday

On a warm Saturday evening, community members and students filled the sidewalk awaiting the celebration of the 61st annual Luau hosted by Hui o Hawai’i, the Hawaiian club at Oregon State University.

The sweet smell of flowers and food filled the halls of LaSells Stewart Center while club members greeted the guests for the event. The event center was decorated with various traditional Hawaiian memorabilia and a small gift table offered treats that were shipped in from the islands special for the luau. The Hawaiian club welcomes everyone to join them not just from Corvallis but from other areas as well.

According to Ashley Juan, President of the club the theme was “Hokele’a: Navigating our past”

Each year the luau features a performance from the club members and dancers that portrays the chosen theme. The audience had the opportunity to enjoy a variety of short dances including Samoan, Maori, Hawaiian and Tongan. The dancers wore traditional clothing of Hawaiian culture including dresses, skirts, head pieces and small props.

Rell Pagdilao, one of the performers has danced since elementary school.

“My favorite part is the performances because we put a lot of work into it, every Sunday we have practices and it pays off in the end,” Pagdilao said.

Pagdilao has been an active dancer in the luau and a member of the club for the past four years.

Many members of the club choose to participate each year in the show and some have experience from before college. The performers prepare up to months ahead of time each Sunday in the Valley Football center.

“I believe this is a crucial part of the planning process because it’s what makes up the entire show” Juan said.

Planning for the entire event however, began about a year ahead of time. Letters are sent out in the beginning of the year for donations in the form of money or gifts for the club itself and the event.“We make all the food here in the MU kitchen,” Juan said. “Thursday, Friday, Saturday is all spent in the kitchen with tons and tons of volunteers.”

According to Juan, there was about 150 volunteers for the event.

The Kalua pig was the only food catered to the event and the poi, a Hawaiian dessert, was flown in straight from Hawaii that weekend.

Given this was their second year hosting in the LaSells Stewart center, Juan was happy with the event turnout drawing in around 800 people. Many volunteers both members and non-members helped from behind the scenes to make this event happen.

The Hawaiian club prides themselves on a friendly atmosphere that welcomes everyone to join them in sharing their love for their culture.

“We encourage anyone to join and learn about the different cultures,” Juan said. “It’s such a great learning experience along with a way to build endless friendships.”

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