HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Lions Clubs International (LCI) 2015 Convention will hold their 98th convention in Honolulu, June 26 to June 30. LCI has 1.4 million members worldwide in 209 countries and geographic areas, many of which will be represented at the 2015 convention.
"We say aloha and welcome to all our Lions delegates, their families and friends to our beautiful islands," said District Governor of the Hawaii Lions Clubs, Jim Bryan. "This is the largest cross-cultural convention to come to Hawai'i with visitors from France, Zimbabwe, Korea, Italy, Mongolia, Trinidad, India, New Guinea, Russia, Japan, Chile and many more countries. Obviously, there are some countries that may not be able to send someone to attend but most countries are represented so this is very exciting for the Lions and Hawaii. Next year's convention will take place in Japan so there will be many Japanese delegates here to participate and plan for their turn in 2016," said Bryan.
Multiple events are scheduled including the Parade of Nations on Kalakaua Avenue, the Lions International Festival (LIFe), a two-day cultural festival at Kapiolani Park with food, entertainment and displays, a private concert headlined by Kenny Loggins at the Hawaii Convention Center, and the Waterfront Jam benefit concert with Raiatea Helm, Jake Shimabukuro and many other local entertainment superstars to help raise money for the Lions' scholarship fund for the local high school LEO Clubs.
"This convention is a colossal event and we are still in need of volunteers to help us in many capacities such as the parade, festival, greeters, registration, hospitality desks and numerous other slots," said Bryan. "And, we are still open for event sponsorship packages and also food vendors for our cultural festival."
The convention expects to bring a significant boost to Hawaii's hotels, activities, attractions, retail, restaurants and many other businesses. Its impact is expected to generate $100 million in total revenue and $10 million in state tax revenue.
"It's a boon for the visitor industry as they prepare for numerous receptions and dinners such the India delegation, who will host a dinner for India, South Asia, Africa and Middle East region for 3,000 guests at the Sheraton Waikiki and the China delegation will host their Dragon Night dinner for 700 people at the Hawaii Convention Center," said Host Committee Chair Robert Lee.
For the last six years, Lee and his team of volunteers have been planning and coordinating the numerous details of the conference. "It's been challenging and yet very rewarding to see it all come together," he said. "Our current registration is approximately at 17,500 delegates. Unfortunately, we lost about 800 registrants due to the Nepal earthquake. But with late and on-site registration, we anticipate a total of 20,000 registrants and 30,000 arrivals into Honolulu for the convention with the largest delegations from Japan (4,000), USA (3,500), China (1,700) and India (1,300). Lee said, "It's been a huge undertaking but thanks to the support of all the volunteers who have been working tirelessly to meet and plan, the Lions organization will greatly benefit as will our state with the influx of visitors and visitor spending."
About 200 delegates from the International Board of Directors are expected to arrive about a week earlier to convene their meetings including approximately 1,500 Lions and their families for the District Governor-Elect seminars. Gov. David Ige will welcome the International Board at its opening session on June 21 and Mayor Kirk Caldwell will present a welcoming speech at opening plenary session on June 28.
On June 27, 135 units with 15,000 participants from approximately 200 countries in their traditional international dress will march through Waikiki for the Parade of Nations. The parade begins at Saratoga Road to Kapiolani Park starting at 9 a.m. The multi-cultural colorful parade features "Matilda," a 15-foot kangaroo from Australia, Royal Hawaiian Band, U.S. Army Band, Kaiser, Campbell and Damien High School marching bands. Parade Chair Daryl Matsuo said, "This will be a very entertaining parade for all to see. With so many countries wearing their traditional country heritage outfits it may actually resemble the Olympics opening or closing ceremonies. We are thrilled to feature this for the visitors and locals alike. All are welcome."
Festivities continue immediately following the parade at the Lions International Festival (LIFe) with delicious local and international food, crafts and entertainment at Kapiolani Park near the bandstand area on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and again on Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Proceeds from the festival will go toward covering costs to host the conference. The festival is open to the public and locals are encouraged to attend the parade and then join everyone at the International Festival. There will be volunteers on hand to help with parking for the two big events.
On Sunday, the public can help LCI set the record for Hawaii's largest bon dance from noon to 3 p.m. A specially printed LCI 2015 Convention commemorative "tenugui" or bon dance towels will be for sale ($8), while supplies last.
A variety show is planned for Lions and the general public as a fundraiser for the Kamehameha Lions Foundation on Sunday, June 28.
The Lions Convention has been supported locally through the efforts of a number or businesses large and small to help to offset the costs of putting on such a large convention. Fortunately the Lions organization covers the majority of the costs in planning and execution through attendance fees, etc. But with the Hawaii Lions hosting it they have a lot of costs that they try to offset through the efforts of all the volunteers and local sponsorships. Many businesses have come forward to offer discounts and specials for the Lions coming to town hoping to make their offers a win-win. Some businesses have just come forward to help the Lions such as First Hawaiian Bank that has helped to sponsor 20,000 tote bags and CVS Drugstores that has donated thousands of bottles of water for volunteers and many restaurants and attractions and tour operators hoping to keep the Lions and their families busy when not at the Hawaii Convention Center.
"Without our very supportive and generous local corporate sponsors and partners, there's no way our volunteers-only organization could ever pull this off. From apparel to bottled water to convention souvenirs to transportation to marketing, the list goes on and on for all of the logistical details that needed to be pulled together", said Bryan. "But, our local businesses have stepped up to assist on every front and we are extremely grateful. Once those tens of thousands of international visitors hit Hawaii, our community's aloha spirit will truly shine."
Event highlights include the International Parade of Nations, the Lions International Festival, and Hawaii's largest Bon Dance.
Volunteers are still urgently needed for hospitality/greeters, specials events, ushers, parade, festival, interpreters, etc.
For more information, call (808) 528-1073 or click here.