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50 Years of Northwest Folklife Feature: Sunshine From Polynesia

Northwest Folklife celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021 with a commemorative logo, highlighting the people and the communities who make Northwest Folklife and all of our programs what it is today. This celebratory 50th logo was designed to feature the core of our organization and one that encompasses who we are—and that is YOU, our community.

The illustration on the ‘0’ is inspired by a photo taken at the 2016 Northwest Folklife Festival featuring a member of Sunshine From Polynesia, a hula performance company and dance school with a 30-year history in Seattle. This photo is of Ryan AbayAbay, and has a very special meaning to the group.

This logo... means more than you will likely ever know. His name is Ryan AbayAbay. He drummed, danced, sang, played the ukulele, and did Samoan fire knife dances for our Halau, Sunshine From Polynesia for many years. He was Ohana, true family, to us. Three years ago, Ryan died suddenly in a motorcycle accident. The loss was devastating. Anyone who met him could just feel his energy. He simply shined.
Lita Hoke, founder of Sunshine From Polynesia

Sunshine From Polynesia was founded by Hoke and her sister-in-law in 1978, and has always been a family-run organization that truly encompasses the meaning of Ohana. Originally founded as a hula dance performance group, it expanded into a dance school when Hoke’s daughter and her neighborhood friends expressed an interest in learning Hula. Ryan AbayAbay was one of the many dancers who became a part of their hula family.

"We all would be honored to have his legacy continue by his inclusion in your 50-year celebration logo. By we, I mean those of us lucky enough to have had him in our lives, inside and outside of Sunshine From Polynesia."