The Magic of Carnival: Malasadas and More!

By Coren Ing ’92 Sekulich, P ’23, ’25, Carnival Food Division Head

Punahou Carnival has always been a magical event for me. As a child, I didn’t grasp the significance of the event as the primary fundraiser for the school’s Financial Aid program. But later, as a student receiving financial aid, and now as a parent of a Punahou graduate and current Junior whose Punahou education would not have been possible without the gift of financial aid, the Carnival has even more meaning.

From rides to games, specialties, and food, Carnival offers something for everyone. Of all its attractions, though, malasadas are arguably one of the most popular. Patrons young and old stand in endless lines for the warm, sugary delights. Malasadas don’t just appear at the flick of a wand, however.  

It all starts with the Sugar Drive in November when the entire school comes together to donate sugar to coat these coveted treats. This year’s goal is to collect 5,500 lbs of sugar, and the undertaking will require a lot of help! During the Sugar Drive, student sign-wavers and dancing malasadas are at all major drop-off locations around campus eagerly collecting donations. Parent volunteers join in the effort by helping collect, bag and store the sugar.

Fast forward to late January when more student volunteers will wash 40-gallon “barrels” to house the over 300 barrels of malasada batter prepared by parent volunteers. Finally, during Carnival in February, over 700 volunteers shape, fry and coat the doughy wonders until over 105,000 sugary bundles of happiness are sold! As magical as Punahou Carnival malasadas seem, they really are just the culmination of the time, love, hard work, and generosity of an entire Punahou community.

But don’t forget the other sweet treats and savory eats Carnival offers. From Smoothies to Portuguese Bean Soup, the Food Division has 21 booths. Feeding thousands of ravenous carnival-goers would not be possible without the invaluable contributions of 2,000+ volunteers who keep the food booths humming. The action is nonstop, but the fun never ends! Volunteers are the true magicians who create the magic that is Punahou Carnival.  

Be part of the magic! Please consider volunteering for Carnival 2024: Explore the Shore, A Coastal Carnival. Numerous Carnival and pre-Carnival shifts available. Sign-ups are ongoing.  Mahalo Nui Loa.


The Carnival Sugar Drive will take place Thursday, November 16 – Friday, November 17, from 7 – 8 a.m. Families are invited to drop off their sugar donation (4, 10 or 25 lb. bags) at drop-off locations across campus: Omidyar K – 1 drop-off, Kosasa drop-off, Grade 6 drop-off, Grade 7 – 8 drop-off, Mamiya Science Center and the PFA Lānai. 

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