I’ve never seen Ala Moana Beach park so packed with people. News reports mentioned that more than 40,000 people converged on Ala Moana Beach Park for the 14th annual Memorial Day lantern floating. The event, which is officiated by Shinnyo-en and presented by the Nā Lei Aloha Foundation, started in 1999 as a way to remember and honor those who have died in service to their country. And the significance of the lanterns?
“Lantern floating ceremonies symbolically ferry the spirits of the deceased back to the spiritual realm to mark the completion of Obon, the Buddhist tradition of welcoming spirits of family members back to celebrate with and be honored by the living.”
While enjoying the day at Hanauma Bay, Ahnate mentioned the lantern floating event. I had never heard of it and therefore I was interested. We even passed on a night hike so that we could mingle with the 39,996 other people that would be there. I didn’t know what to expect and was surprisingly shocked when I crossed Ala Moana Boulevard, made my way to the sand, and saw rows upon rows of people.
Some of these people were holding lanterns, some were not. Most people were standing, while a few sat on their beach chairs. There was a large stage that was set up, equipped with large projector screens. This was a massive event with huge production value and I had no idea that it even existed.
Eventually, we made out way to the Ewa end of Magic Island. We tried our best to squeeze our way through the crowd and eventually we scored an awesome vantage point. Check out some photos of the event below.