From Lantern Floating Hawaii:
“Held annually on Memorial Day on Oʻahu’s south shore, Lantern Floating Hawaii brings together over 40,000 people on the beach, joined by thousands around the world via live streaming and telecast for an evening of honoring loved ones and generating collective hope toward the future.
“Lantern Floating Hawaii is a ceremony where all can come together for a personal and collective moment of remembrance, reflection, and offering gratitude to those who have gone before us. It is a chance to be surrounded by the love, understanding, and support of others — even strangers. We are strengthened as a community as we reach out to support others and build understanding of our common values and experiences.”
This ceremony is an extravaganza. It is a finely tuned organization at it’s best. The stage alone, right on the grounds of Ala Moana Park’s Magic Island, is massive. The screen that is set up for all to see what is happening on the stage is as large as the largest screen in a movie theatre. The sound system is flawless. In all three times I’ve attended, I’ve never heard a glitch in the sound or a feedback screech. They are the best at doing what they do. On the stage you will see hula dancers and hear an orchestra. You will see traditional Japanese garb full of colors and hear taiko drums.
One of the prime reasons to join the thousands on the beach is to float your lantern, but not everyone does. On the lantern you write the name of the deceased individual you are remembering and any other sentiments you would like to include.
Step 1. Pick up your lantern in the large Lantern Request Tent that has been constructed specifically for this purpose; one lantern per family group. The lanterns are available from 10 am to 4 pm or until lanterns run out. I went to pick up my lantern during my lunch hour. There are hundreds of volunteers and many lines, so the wait isn’t too long. You will receive a bag with everything you need for your lantern. This is all offered at no charge. It is done on a donation basis.
Step 2. They have tables set up in the “quiet area” where you assemble your lantern and write the names of who you are remembering. There are volunteers here, as well, to guide you through this step. Pens are provided, but many people bring their own writing implements of various types and colors.
The ceremony is from 6:15 pm to 7:30 pm. The lantern floating commences shortly before sunset. It begins first with boats full of large extravagant lanterns that are released into the water. These are the Collective Remembrance Lanterns. They carry prayers for all water-related accidents, victims of war, natural disasters, famine and disease. Then those with lanterns start to congregate at the water’s edge. Volunteers are available here to light your lanterns.
Parking can be a little bit of a headache, but you can park at the Convention Center (shuttle provided), Ala Moana Shopping Center, or the Ward Village area.
It’s truly an amazing event not to be missed. There is a beauty to be seen when all the lanterns are set out to sea at dusk. You will marvel at the sight. You will be entertained. You will be moved. This I promise.