Lantern Floating Ceremony Draws Crowd

Rev. Harold Karimoto
Rev. Harold Karimoto

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Hundreds of lanterns lit up the waters off Ala Moana Beach Park Monday night, with the 10th Annual Floating Lantern Hawaii Ceremony, that drew an estimated 30,000 people.

It's a decade-long Memorial Day tradition, poured along the shoreline of Ala Moana Beach Park.

This Buddhist ceremony has grown beyond religious or ethnic boundaries with thousands of people taking part in the Lantern Floating Hawaii Ceremony.

"Many people have come to experience the common element of having prayers for loved ones. We're all sharing that. Doesn't matter what culture, race or religion," said Rev. Harold Karimoto, Shinnyo-en Hawaii Member.

A Buddhist order, Shinnyo-en puts together the ceremony. This year, 1,600 lanterns illuminated the ocean. Half of them are paper lanterns made for the public to float.

Each one bears a personal prayer for loved ones who have passed away.

"This is my grandpa who passed away when I turned one year old on Christmas," said Ambrosia Kane, Manoa resident.

The hope is that each lantern will serve as a guiding light for spirits of the dead to move on from this world to the next.

"My grandma died two weeks ago, but I couldn't go back to Japan," said Yoriko Maritain, Waikiki resident.

Believer or non-believer, many say this blanket of lights is an experience that provides a little comfort to those who have suffered a loss, and a sense of serenity that organizers say draws more people from all walks of life every year.

Last year, there were 450 paper lanterns for the people to float.

Due to a public demand, organizers provided 800 of them this year.