Easter week ended with the celebration of the Merrie Monarch Festival which finally ended last night. The Merrie Monarch’s Festival transformed Hilo by attracting thousands of spectators from the world in which free Hula performances, craft fairs, entertainment, a folksy parade, etc were showcased.
Reed, of Mountain View, said the festival reflects Hilo's values as being family-oriented and home-grown and it makes him proud each year. "When you go (to the hula performances), it's like one big family. You see people you know everywhere you go," he said. "That's Hilo." Derek Kurisu, executive vice president of KTA Super Store, said the thing he loves about the Merrie Monarch season is that "you see smiles — everyone's smiling, the visitors, the local people, and the employees."
This Merrie Monarch Festival had a practical purpose. The Merrie Monarch Festival was created 47 years ago as a way to promote Hilo in difficult financial times. And it has worked, though the dip in the economy has had its effects. Beth-An Nishijima, of the popular Nori's Saimin & Snacks, said she sees a 40 percent increase in business during Merrie Monarch, mostly from catering to hula schools and people buying food gifts to take home.