By Donna Beth Weilenman
The San Francisco Aloha Festival began 18 years ago to welcome the replica Polynesian ocean-voyaging canoe, the Hokule`a, as it sailed through the Golden Gate. Since then it has become one of the Bay Area’s largest celebrations of Polynesian culture.
The festival also serves as an opportunity for the Pacific Islanders’ Cultural Association to award scholarships to students who represent the Pacific Islander community.
Among the four recipients this year is Leanza Tupfer, a former Benicia High School student who was her school’s representative to the Community Sustainability Commission in 2011-12.
“My grandfather has brought me to the Aloha Festival since I was a child,” said Tupfer, who is of Polynesian and Hawaiian descent.