Celebration of Life Event to Be Held May 25

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Hawai‘i Care Choices (formerly Hospice of Hilo) will hold this year’s Celebration of Life Lantern Floating event at Reed’s Bay on Saturday, May 25, 2019, from 3:30 to 730 p.m., with free parking at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium and continuous shuttles to Reed’s Bay. (This year’s Celebration of Life event was previously held at Wailoa Park.)

For the first time in 14 years, Hawai‘i Care Choices has themed this year’s Celebration of Life event—Honoring Our Heritage. It’s truly a celebration to honor the memory of loved ones passed as well as the many cultures that make up Hawai‘i Island’s unique and culturally rich community.

A pre-event will begin with a Ride for a Cause from Reed’s Bay to Ka‘ū Hospital to meet and greet patients. Motorcycle riders and classic car cruisers will all don a special glow-in-the-dark bracelet to bring awareness to supporting keiki bereavement and the Celebration of Life. These Celebration of Life bracelets are for sale online for $10 donation. Return of the riders to Reed’s Bay will signal the beginning of the program.

Luminaries to decorate are also available online and at the event for $25. Food trucks will be offering delicious faire throughout the event, in addition to shave ice and andagi donuts, the traditional obon treat.

Educational information about program and services will be provided by Hawai‘i Care Choices, American Cancer Society, Hui Malama Ola Na Oiwi, Alzheimer Association and Malama Ka Pili Pa‘a Cancer Support.

All parking will be at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium with free continuous bus shuttles beginning at 230 p.m. to Reed’s Bay, with the last bus leaving Reed’s Bay for the Civic at 830 p.m. 

Hawaiian protocol by Aunty Aloha Bezilla will open the event program. Hula performances from Keaukaha’s own Kupuna Halau ‘O Kawananakoa, who will be serenaded by recording artist Ben Kaili. Hailing from Puna will be Kalapana’s Awa Band, singing the best in contemporary Hawaiian music. Rounding off the list of talent will be the Hilo Bon Dance Club and Tsukikage Odori Kai Dancers, bringing all to their feet with their most popular bon, line and K-pop dance favorites. Obon event towels are also available on online for $10. 

As the sun dips into the horizon, participants will ready their lanterns and line up in the Lights of Remembrance procession along Banyan Drive fronting Reed’s Bay. Multi-faith prayer and blessings will be provided by Reverend Junshin Miyazaki (Buddhist),  Father Apolinario Ty (Catholic),  Rabbi Rachel Short (Jewish) and Kahu Bradford Kaiwi Lum (Hawaiian) prior to the launch of lanterns at the the shoreline.

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Special ocean mats will roll from the sidewalk to the ocean to allow easy access for all to release their lanterns safely, including those in wheelchairs. The singular sound of the Hawaiian nose flute performed by Hawai’i Island Recording Artist Manu Josiah will fill the air to signal the beginning of the lanterns release. The entire event will culminate with hands joined across the bay as all voices rise in unison singing Hawaii Aloha.

Parts of the event will be live-streamed on community TV networks, Naleo TV phone app, website and on Channel 53, as well as across the state via Olelo TV (O‘ahu), Akaku TV (Maui) and Ho‘ike TV (Kaua‘i).


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