Loved ones honored in annual lantern ceremony

John Cardenas
John Cardenas

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - More than 40,000 people spent their Memorial Day evening at Ala Moana Beach Park.  They were there remembering loved ones at the annual Lantern Floating Ceremony.

For about an hour people stood in silence, with their eyes wide open to the sights, ears focused on the sounds, their hearts heavy as they remembered lost loved ones.

Sincere, somber, special.

"My mother passed away May 3," said a festival participant.

"My uncle named Pat," said another participant.

"My godmother, she passed away two years ago from cancer," said participant Kyna-Haley Chu.

Respect, honor, peace.

For John Cardenas, this symbol eases pain.

"I know my son Keone is watching right now," Cardenas told us.

Keone Cardenas was killed with two others in a horrific car accident on Likelike Highway in February.  His family says this lantern represents love.

"It helps us with the healing process and because of the magnitude of the ceremony; we join everyone in doing the same thing," said Cardenas.

With more than 2,000 setting sail in the Pacific, each is attached with a story.

A person, a prayer.

For a loved one's harmonious future.

"We all observe the same thing," Cardenas said.

Cardenas, like countless others honored, is no longer here.

But these ignited flames floating out to a dark, endless sea, is proof their spirits still beam brightly.

"He's up there smiling," Cardenas said. "This is good, it's good for everyone."

As part of the tradition, volunteers will retrieve the lanterns to be stored and rebuilt for next year.

As for the personalized messages, those will eventually be burnt in a special ceremony.