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Now in its 15th year, the annual Lantern Floating Hawaii Ceremony is well-known by many even outside of Hawaii.
“I wasn’t expecting this line, I thought it was just gonna be a quick wait and you get your lantern, but no it’s pretty amazing to see all the people that come out for this,” Los Angeles residents Beverly Nguyen said.
Approximately 40,000 people are expected to be turn out for the event. Many of them got to Magic Island early and lined up so they can get a free lantern, allowing them to write a message to their dearly departed.
By nightfall, about 6,000 lanterns will be floated out in the water at Magic Island, each one honoring loved ones no longer here.
“My two grandfathers just passed away this year and I really wanted to honor them for all that they’ve done for me they’ve been a big influence in my life.,” Jenna Kamei said.
Kathleen Clark lost her son 10 weeks ago.
“He died sadly and tragically and no one should need to die that young,” Clark said.
Being at the ceremony somehow helps.
“It’s a healing because I didn’t get the opportunity to say goodbye, so through this I’m letting go,” Clark said.
Organizers say easing that pain is what brings people from all over the world to this event. Some volunteers even speak multiple languages to help foreign visitors.
“We all have that one thing in common. We all lost people that we love. That’s why it’s a beautiful and humongous gathering and it draws everyone,” Floating Lantern Hawaii Ceremony official Sharon Suzuki said.
Suzuki says the ceremony is a forum that gives the people here a that peaceful feeling, which they want to share with others. That’s probably why so many people feel the need to be there.