HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By: Tianna Morimoto, HNN Summer Intern
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Thomas Square — a park once known for a high count of homeless encampments — was the backdrop for a celebration Sunday.
Since late 2016, construction barriers blocked the 6-acre park while crews spruced up walkways, plumbing and landscaping.
Before its reopening this week, the community came together to celebrate La Hoihoi Ea, or restoration day Sunday.
"In February of 1843, Britain had occupied the islands for 5 months and the Queen saw it was not right, that it was illegal" said Larry Rutkowski, who was attending this event. "She sent Admiral Thomas to Hawaii to lower the British Flag and raise the Hawaiian flag."
La Hoihoi Ea takes place on July 31 and used to be one of the four major holidays in Hawaii. Click here to read more.
Not only is it the day that the British ended five months of occupation in Hawaii, but it was the same day that King Kamehameha III proclaimed the state motto, "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono."
Imaikalani Winchester, another attendant at the event said "I am very happy with the way that our history is now being brought to light. For people who come to visit the park, who are passerbyers, or people who continuously return. It's a testament to the growth of our celebration its the testament to the growth of our people."
Kamehameha III will be the new focal point of the park as a $250,000 statue of the King will be unveiled on Tuesday.
The 12-foot statue depicts Kamehameha III in royal regalia with an outward arm gesturing towards a flag. City officials were previously criticized for the cost of the art piece.
Read more about the cost of the renovations: