The Volunteers Behind Carnival’s Sweet and Savory Eats

By Shannon Yates ’89  P ’24, P ’28, Food Division Head

When I interviewed at a large Las Vegas resort for my first post-college job, I met with the Director of Finance who thoughtfully scrolled through my resume past more recent experiences and landed on a high school event I had listed at the bottom.  

He looked up and said, “Tell me more about 100,000 malasadas in two days.”  

Even someone from the land of grand scale and excess was impressed!

Decades later, the malasada sales at the Punahou Carnival remain staggering, and what’s even more impressive is all that goes into producing each and every one of them. Dedicated teams of students, parents and alumni fill the booths working over hot fryers and sticky sugar trays to produce the coveted sweets. Many come back year after year to support the students, to reminisce, and to have fun!

Providing for those booths is a large network of more students and volunteers who work tirelessly to receive and distribute products through the Food Service Supply and Food Transportation teams. There is even a whole booth dedicated to making over 300 barrels of batter! The sugar collected from generous families further illustrates the magnitude of the production. At the recent sugar drive, more than 100 students and parents collected over 7,000 pounds of sugar. Since the proceeds from the Carnival support student financial aid, this generous donation makes a big impact.

This effort and labor of love repeats itself throughout the Food Division. For example, during a typical Carnival, over 35,000 hamburgers, 13,000 ears of corn, 3,800 gallons of Portuguese bean soup and 12,000 gyros are sold. Behind all of that are students who bravely jump into leadership roles without much prior experience, parents who return to chair positions every time they have a child in the junior class, and alumni who look forward to putting in the hours with their classmates year after year. The success of the Carnival Food Division comes from an amount of hard work and dedication that is beyond impressive.

I signed on to be a Food Division Head because I wanted to help support the student experience that I found so valuable many years ago. I am grateful for the up-close view of the student growth, and I truly appreciate the time I get to spend working side-by-side with incredible students, parents, alumni and Punahou staff.

I encourage all Punahou parents to join the team by working shifts during Pun Prix ’23 – Pedal to the Metal. It’s a great way to connect to other families while supporting Punahou. 

If you haven’t already done so, please sign up for a shift at Punahou Carnival. We encourage all families to support Punahou Carnival by volunteering for a shift. The event supports Punahou’s financial aid fund.

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