Lifestyle

Crowds Enjoy Waimea’s Cherry Blossom Festival

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The skies were blue, the sun was shining and Waimea’s crisp, trademark breeze swept through the town as throngs of people came out for the annual Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival Saturday.

For the past 27 years, the South Kohala community has celebrated the ancient Japanese tradition of Hanami, or “cherry blossom viewing party.” About 75 cherry trees dot the grounds of Church Row Park. This weekend, some of their branches were putting out a display of deep pink blossoms.

“The trees are healthy and they always typically bloom in February,” said festival planning committee member Fern Galvelek. “These trees were planted a long time ago and they’re still flourishing.”

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The festival has grown throughout the years, spreading across Waimea town. With various booths and vendors, the event has a lot of Japanese culture.

Crowds meandered around Church Row Park Saturday morning looking at bonsai plants, learning origami, watching cooking demonstrations or enjoying traditional Taiko drumming. Later in the day, Chinese Lions entered the crowd for the Chinese Lion Dance.

By the Kamuela Hongwanji, local residents were selling cherry tree branches that were loaded with blossoms.

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The event also encompasses a lot of Hawaiian foods and traditions.

“It’s a mixture of what Waimea is all about,” Galvelek said.

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