Lantern Floating Ceremony remembers lives lost; recongnizes hope for future

Published On: May 28 2012 06:34:00 PM HST

More than 40,000 residents and visitors packed into Ala Moana Beach Park and Magic Island to experience the annual Lantern Floating Ceremony.

For the 14th year, people from various ethnic backgrounds and religious views, united to remember loved ones lost and pray for a harmonious future. The event is held on Memorial Day.

"How wonderful at the end of the day, people can come to one spot and have their reflections and remembrances together," said Roy Ho, executive director with Na Lei Aloha Foundation.

Ho expected more than 3,500 candle-lit lanterns were set afloat from Magic Island, Monday evening.

"Since we are here on vacation, we decided, my parents died last year and my mom. So I wanted to do this," Mona Knollinger said.

It is an emotional day for Knollinger and thousands of others who have lost someone they loved.

However, Ho hoped participants get a comforting feeling from the release of the lanterns.

More than 400 volunteers help make the ceremony a reality. Ho said it takes a year to plan the event, which is broadcast internationally.

"The event has grown every year and with that the volunteers have also grown to really make this an event that people from all backgrounds and creeds, can find solace and peace," said volunteer Qalvy Grainzvolt, who traveled to Oahu from New York.

The ceremony includes a program with a lineup including Hawaiian entertainers, Taiko drummers and a Hawaii chant.

After the program, the lanterns were set afloat simultaneously.

The lanterns are collected in nets to ensure there is no ocean pollution and are recycled to be reused in next year's ceremony.

Lantern Floating is an Asian tradition and Shinnyo-en's Lantern Floating was brought to Hawaii in 1999, with the first ceremony at Keehi Lagoon.

See photos from the ceremony, as well as additional Memorial Day photos in the slideshow below.


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