How pāʻū riders became a staple of the Kamehameha Day Parade

The first horses in Hawaii were gifted to King Kamehameha I, but it wasn't until the rule of Kamehameha III when the Paniolos, or cowboys, came into existence. Shortly afterward, women began to ride horses, which led to the invention of the pāʻū holo lio, or riding skirt.

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These skirts used up to 21 yards of fabric and were often worn over top of other garments to protect them. In addition to the pāʻū holo lio, female riders often wore ornate hats and tops.

When cars arrived in Hawaii, new laws prevented pāʻū riders from participating in their usual riding. Riding clubs existed under Queen Liliuokalani, but they were rarely seen until February 1906, when the Washington Day Parade exhibited riders to the public.

That same year, the pāʻū riders were also featured in the Kamehameha Day parade, and have remained a large part of the parade ever since. Today, pāʻū riders are considered an integral element of Kamehameha Day festivities–– there’s no Kamehameha Day parade without the pāʻū riders!