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HGEA members pay tribute to Hawaii’s heritage through the Royal Hawaiian Band

Members of HGEA serve their communities in countless ways every day. But did you know they also play a role in preserving Hawaii’s heritage?

As performers in the Royal Hawaiian Band, the only full-time municipal band in the U.S., these members of Local 152 provide regular musical tributes to Hawaii’s history.

The band was founded in 1836 by King Kamehameha III, and today they perform about 400 concerts a year, for occasions as varied as visiting heads of states to Little League openings.

According to Scott Furushima, the musical director, the band took on a special role during the pandemic, when some members of Hawaii’s community, like nursing home residents, could not venture outside.

“It really captured our hearts [and] it really brightened their day. We bring a piece of Hawaii to them,” he said.

While the pandemic prevented the band from continuing its regular performance schedule, that does not mean they weren’t busy. They started doing food distribution and then helping out doing testing and vaccinations.

“As restrictions lightened up, we were able to perform in small groups,” said Todd Yukumoto, an arranger for the band. “We played for the vaccination centers and for other types of community events. When people heard us play again, they came up to us in tears. They literally cried saying, ‘It’s amazing to hear live music again.’”

The Royal Hawaiian Band may be among the most unique – but hardly the only – way that AFSCME members improve and brighten their communities.

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