Hawaii Friends to Throw Inaugural Luau in DC

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The grassroots campaign of Obama extends to a grassroots celebration for Presidential Inauguration Week. Hoku Award Winning Group of the Year, Maunalua, are scheduled to perform and chef Les Tomita of Da Kitchen on Maui will cook in an Inaugural Luau featuring Hawaiian food and music.

When friends and long-time supporters of Hawaii-born Barack Obama heading to Washington DC for the Presidential Inauguration in January learned scalpers had bought out the Hawaii Society Ball hours after the election and were hawking event tickets on eBay, they were annoyed. Undeterred by the short timeline, they set to work calling friends to organize their own party: the first Inaugural Luau (http://inauguralluau.eventbrite.com).

The luau will be held two blocks from the Inaugural site and Capitol Mall at Hotel Monaco, and will feature Hawaiian food prepared by chef Les Tomita of Da Kitchen on Maui and the Hoku Award-Winning music of Maunalua. The event starts at 6 pm on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009, and runs till midnight. The planning committee is a group of friends who know each other through Hawaii's film industry and Japanese American World War II Veteran organizations.

It started right after the election; friends Stacey Hayashi and Amanda Stevens booked their flights to DC and then attempted to get Hawaii Society Inaugural Ball tickets. Unfortunately, the event had sold out and none of Hayashi's other friends headed to DC had gotten tickets either. They were in Hilo with the famed 100th Infantry Battalion veterans for a Veterans Day parade at the time. Hayashi then headed to Los Angeles for the American Film Market (AFM) and the Go For Broke National Education Center's annual fundraising gala, "Evening of Aloha". Hoku award-winning group Maunalua was performing that night.

"The stars started to align", said Hayashi. "I'm good friends with Myles Nomura, Maunalua's manager. As folks from Hawaii, it was inevitable that we all went out for late night karaoke afterwards!" Hayashi asked the band if they'd be interested in performing at an Inaugural Luau. Lead singer Bobby Moderow, Jr., was enthused and jumped on the opportunity to participate and be involved in such a special and once in a lifetime moment for Hawaii-born and raised President-Elect Obama.

"Maunalua is looking forward to bringing our contemporary/traditional style of Hawaiian music to the DC area inauguration party on January 20th. We are very excited to have the opportunity to perform at such a historical event. The continuity between our style of grass roots, 'ohana first mentality and our President-elect's mindset lend well to our celebration for him. Please help us celebrate and be a part of this very, very special evening of Hawaiian music, food and to share
in the welcoming of the first 'son of Hawai'i' President," says Moderow.

Another friend, Les Tomita, chef and owner of Da Kitchen on Maui, was also thrilled to be a part of the celebration. "We're real excited to be doing this," he said. "It's a historic event and I know if my dad was alive, he'd be proud." Tomita also offered to donate all the food, and Hayashi was overwhelmed by his generosity. "I was so touched by his offer," Hayashi said. "I was like... 'wow... thank you. But it's a lot of people; don't do it.'" Tomita plans to cook many of his popular items from his always-crowded restaurants, including kalua pig, teriyaki salmon, and hopefully moi, a fish that was only eaten by Hawaiian royalty in ancient days. "I have a World War II veteran friend working on getting us some `opihi," Hayashi said, "but we're trying to figure out how to get it there." `Opihi is an expensive delicacy in Hawaii; it runs $40/lb. on a good day. Tomita plans to wrap laulau at Da Kitchen on Maui, flash freeze it, and fly it up to DC in air cargo. Plans for Hawaiian style shave ice are also in the works.

"It was easy to put together," says Hayashi. "Everywhere I went, people just responded well. It's going to be a great party. We're hoping Konrad and Maya (Ng and Soetoro-Ng, Obama's brother in law and sister), who are friends of many of the organizers of this event -- and obviously President Obama and Michelle -- will have time to stop by, but we know it's going to be a crazy night for them. Regardless, we'll all have lots of fun and have really awesome food and music."

For additional information on the Inaugural Luau, contact Stacey Hayashi at info@inauguralluau.com or visit http://inauguralluau.eventbrite.com. 100 premium tickets and 200
regular tickets are available, first come first served. No scalping; make sure to enter names for tickets you are purchasing as they will be matched with identification at the door. Credit cards/paypal only; please do not mail checks as they will be returned.

About Inaugural Luau Inc:
Inaugural Luau Inc. was formed for the sole reason of throwing a grassroots party, Hawaiian style, in DC for the Presidential Inauguration, celebrating the first Hawaii-born President of the
United States.

Stacey Hayashi, event organizer
Inaugural Luau Inc.


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