Memorial Day Lantern Floating Celebration in Hawaii

Last Updated on August 26, 2017 by Christine Kaaloa

Biking with my sister- our route started from the Waikiki Yacht Club and made its way through Diamond Head and Kahala and then circled back around to Kapahulu and then Ala Moana Beach Park. It ended when we saw the beach park entrance baracaded and  large streams of crowd walking in to participate in one of Hawaii’s largest cultural events

Each Memorial Day, over 40,000 people come to Ala Moana Beach Park to celebrate the Annual Lantern Floating Hawaii celebration. BBQ grills, bento plate lunches and blue tarp family picnic tents were out in abundance in typical “local island style”.

Some spectators brought towels or mats and found sitting real estate on the sand, where they could best view the giant video monitors and the entertainment stage .

The program commenced at 6:30P with local entertainment and ceremonial stagings and climaxed with the release of more than 2,000 eco-friendly lanterns  into the ocean.

Table of Contents: Memorial Day Lantern Floating Celebration in Hawaii

Memories honored at lantern floating in Hawaii

Coinciding with Memorial Day, the celebration is to both,  honor soldiers who fought in the war as well as, celebrate the ancient Japanese Buddhist tradition of Obon, a ceremonial season honoring departed loved ones.

Although this tradition originated in Japan and is a Buddhist custom and ritual, the lantern floating celebration in Hawaii is observed to be non-denominational and is open to anyone who wants to participate.

Hawaii, a multi-cultural state with a substantially large Japanese demographics, has always adopted and adapted the traditions of its diverse ruling demographic groups such as JapanesePortuguese, Hawaiian, Filipino, Chinese, Korean. These cultures and traditions continue to define Hawaiian Island culture, events and lifestyle to this day.

Why float lanterns?

As is common in Japanese culture, lanterns are set afloat to honor ancestors and the dearly departed. Floating paper lanterns (originally called “Toro Nagashi”) are available on a first-come first-serve basis and donations were voluntary. People were then free to inscribe handwritten messages and prayers for their loved ones on the lanterns; as it is customary belief that once released into the ocean, the prayers and wishes written on them will be received. 


Participation in the event is free and open to all cultures and religions.
Donations are welcome and go to the beautification of Ala Moana Beach Park.

For more information you can go to :
Date: Memorial Day
Location: Ala Moana Beach Park, Honolulu, Hawaii


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