In small, personal ways that go largely unnoticed, 49-year-old Naomi Carter has mourned her mother’s passing every day for more than 17 years.
Today, for the first time, Carter joined thousands of other people at Ala Moana Beach Park in a most conspicuous spectacle of love and remembrance.
Organizers of the 18th annual Lantern Floating Hawaii predicated an overall crowd in the tens of thousands. And despite some threatening weather earlier in the day, the event again attracted a massive audience spread out from Magic Island to the Kewalo end of the park.
Some 6,000 floating lanterns were made available to the public to personalize and set afloat in remembrance of loved ones. By 4:30 p.m., two hours before the start of the program, all the lanterns were gone.
In anticipation of a large turnout and attendant traffic congestion, free parking and shuttle service from the Hawai‘i Convention Center were made available starting at 7 a.m.
Carter arrived from Manoa by bus about 1 p.m. and watched from beneath the shade of a low-set tent as the park slowly filled.
“I’ve been here before but I’ve never floated a lantern,” Carter said, clutching a square lantern the sides of which she had decorated with heartfelt messages to her mother, Daisy Young, and other loved ones who have died.