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By Mele Laumanu Petelo

HONOLULU, Hawaii (July 30, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS)---An eight-day Flag Day Festival, commemorating the establishment of American Samoa as a United States territory in 1900, kicks off this weekend in downtown Honolulu's Tamarind Park.

It will the mark the 32nd annual celebration by Hawaii's growing Samoan community of the first time the American flag was raised in the South Pacific territory's capital of Pago Pago.

The eight day festival's opening event on Saturday will feature a traditional kava ceremony and musical entertainment by groups from Salt Lake City and Hawaii's Polynesian Cultural Center. In addition, there will be tapa making and weaving demonstrations. Samoan food will be on sale.

Following the Tamarind Park opening, the remainder of the week-long festivities will take place at Keehi Lagoon Park, where there will be food booths, arts and crafts displays, sports events, tattoo demonstrations, and musical competitions.

The chairman of the festival's organizing committee, Ati So’o, says the main goal of the Flag Days event is to encourage pride in Samoan culture and to teach children about Samoan traditions. He says the annual Flag Day Festival also enhances tourism experiences for Hawaii's visitors , helping them --as well as Hawaii's non-Samoan residents-- understand traditional Samoan culture.

The eight day festival, once again this year, will involve other Pacific Islanders, including Tongans, Hawaiians, and Fijians.

So'o, who has been charged with organizing the Flag Day celebration week for the past three years, hopes the festival eventually will become a pan-Polynesian event.

The Honolulu Flag Day Festival will conclude on Saturday, August 9.

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