HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tens of thousands of people lined the shores at Ala Moana Beach Park for the 15th annual Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony.
This year, more than 6,000 candle-lit lanterns were set afloat from Magic Island in remembrance of loved ones who have passed, or as symbolic prayer for a harmonious and peaceful future.
The ceremony also recognized those who have passed due to various causes afflicting humanity throughout the world. The theme of Lantern Floating Hawaii is "Many Rivers, One Ocean."
The lantern carried by a Pearl Harbor survivor honored his fallen comrades.
"I was right across the (USS) Arizona when it blew up and all the other battleships that got damaged that morning," recalled Allen Bolendos.
The 92-year-old traveled to Hawaii from San Diego to experience the ceremony for the first time.
"Very interesting and awesome," said Bolendos. "This is totally unexpected. Although I was invited, I had no idea what it was going to be about."
The 90-minute ceremony and program included Shinnyo Taiko, Kuana Torres Kahele, Hâlau Hula Kamamolikolehua, and the Shinnyo-en Shomyo Ensemble.
At 6:45 p.m., Her Holiness Shinso Ito, Head of Shinnyo-en, addressed the audience, followed by the lighting of the Light of Harmony. After the lighting, the lanterns were set afloat onto the waters of Ala Moana Beach by the general public and volunteers.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, as in past years, all lanterns were collected from the ocean and restored for use in the upcoming years.
"It's something that everybody in Hawaii should at least experience once or even more. I mean, just come back and share moments with your family and friends just to have good strong reflections of people that you love that passed on," said Jedd Ramos, who returned to watch the ceremony for the third time.
The first Lantern Floating Hawaii Ceremony was held at Ke'ehi Lagoon on Memorial Day 1999 and has grown each year in response to community demand.
Shinnyo-en and presenter Nâ Lei Aloha Foundation have nurtured the community event as a vehicle for cross-cultural cooperation, understanding, harmony and peace, which engages hundreds of volunteers and tens of thousands of participants annually.
After the ceremony, the lanterns were collected, cleaned, and stored for next year.
You can watch the ceremony live on KGMB from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 27.
The rebroadcast will be from 6 p.m. to 7p.m. on Saturday, June 8 on KGMB.