Pacific islanders gathered at the Killeen Civic & Conference Center Saturday to celebrate and share their cultures with the community.

Sunny Ahsang, a dancer with Siva Ori Polynesia, said it doesn’t matter what race, religion or creed people are, the event is meant to be a celebration of culture.

“This event right here brings out the aloha,” he said.

The director of dance group Pacific Heights Express, Helen Gomez, shared Ahsang’s feelings.

“Today is about celebrating the spirit of aloha,” she said.

The celebration culminated with the Aloha Festival of Central Texas live cultural dinner show.

The show included a dinner and cultural performances by dance groups designed to showcase the dances of different islands. The dance groups represented islands such as Hawaii, New Zealand, Tonga, Tahiti and Samoa.

Gomez expected the dinner to be sold out, She said they were prepared to serve more than 400 people.

“This is about promoting and celebrating diversity,” said Jerrilyn Lizama, an event treasurer.

Prior to the dinner show, many vendors set up in the foyer of the civic and conference center. Some vendors sold jewelry, handmade crafts and handmade clothes. For a couple of the vendors, events like this are special.

“You get to see a lot of people from back home, and we all come together,” said Judy Lesieur, a jewelry vendor originally from Hawaii.

Aulani Guerra, another Hawaii native residing in Killeen, had similar sentiments.

“It is special for the people to be able to be among other islanders and show aloha for each other,” she said.

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