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U.N. climate summit halts delivery of lei in Paris

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Shown in this Nov. 25 photo is a portion of the completed Lei for Paris.

WAILUKU » A group of Maui residents delivering sections of a mile-long lei in Paris at memorial sites to honor victims of recent terrorist attacks had to postpone the lei ceremony due to a demonstration ahead of the U.N. climate summit.

Organizer Tim Lara said the group delivering the 250-pound lei, made up of ti leaves and orchids, had planned to meet with members of a Hawaii youth delegation who are in Paris to attend the conference, according to the Maui News. But the meeting was canceled before protests broke out Sunday at the city’s main memorial site, the Place de la Republique.

The protest was planned as part of a global movement to combat climate change.

The group was able to deliver segments of the lei Sunday at the Bataclan concert theater, where 89 people were gunned down in the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks that left a total of 130 people dead.

The group had also planned to take sections of the lei to the other memorial sites at Le Carillon cafe and bar and Stade de France stadium. Organizers said the remaining segments were expected to be delivered Monday.

The group, which arrived in Paris on Friday, has been handing out cards translated in French that explain the meaning of the lei.

“The timing of this whole thing is a little bit funky because of the (conference),” Lara said via Skype. “We had to explain to people, ‘No, we’re not here for any political statement or political mission, we’re just here to share aloha with Paris from Hawaii.’”

Nearly 200 people on Maui helped weave the lei earlier this month. United Airlines volunteered to ship the lei and paid for a plane ticket.

Organizer Ron Panzo said that the experience in Paris so far has been eye-opening, as the trip has gone “from one extreme to the other.”

“To see all that love and aloha in Hawaii and for us to bring that to people in Paris… . From love and aloha, all of a sudden to hate and tragedy,” he said.

The lei project was part of Cynthia Rose Foundation’s Spreading Joy Campaign, which delivers lei made from fabric and drinking straws to people who perform random acts of kindness.

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