HONOLULU (KHON2) — After a two-year hiatus, lanterns are once again floating this Memorial Day, but it’s not the huge spectacle at Ala Moana Beach Park. Instead, Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaii is taking a scaled-down approach.
This year the lanterns are being set afloat in a small pool at the Shinnyo-En Hawaii Temple, and instead of one large event, it’s being stretched over 10 days.
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Many folks are drawn to the lure of the large event but are still finding healing through the experience this year, like the Cisneros family who flew in all the way from New Mexico.
“We lost my husband back in 2019 to a work accident,” Yvette Cisneros said. “When I found out that Hawaii does the Shinnyo Lantern festival, I immediately made bookings to come here specifically for this event because I know my husband would be amazed by this experience so we’re here to honor him.”
Michele O’Leary came to pay respects to her son, who died in 2019 as a victim of suicide.
“We know that he’s at peace now,” she said.
Participants are required to make reservations. When they arrive, they’re given lanterns to write messages for loved ones. They then cross over a bridge and a LED-lit representation of a Hawaii beach. Serene music plays as they cast off their lantern.
Some pay respects to personal loss, others to the big picture.
“I want to celebrate peace and love, and healing,” Honolulu resident Linda Ago said.
The change this year to Moiliili due to COVID still provided many with the experience they desire.
“Yes we have the ocean and the beautiful beach and the setting, but the bigger picture is to pay respect and honor our loved ones and it doesn’t matter where you do it,” Hawaii-based US Servicemember Matthew Brooks said.
But the hope is to once again return to gathering at Ala Moana.
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“It’s so unreal that feeling,” Director of Operations Glenn Takahashi said. “Everybody comes together for one message, one moment that we all show gratitude, and we can’t get that. We look forward hopefully it’s back at Ala Moana.”