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Waimea cherry blossom festival canceled due to COVID surge

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The Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival has been canceled due to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the County of Hawaii Department of Parks and Recreation announced today.

The festival’s coordinating committee met on Thursday to discuss the pending status of the event originally planned for Feb. 5, Parks and Recreation Director Maurice Messina said in a release.

“Many people have worked hard to make the Cherry Blossom Festival one of the island’s premier events, and the committee expressed that they felt obligated to cancel this year’s event out of concern and love for their community,” Messina said.

One of the Big Island’s largest annual celebrations, the Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival draws more than 30,000 visitors to the Waimea area for taiko drum performances, food booths, a bon dance and other multicultural events. Cherry blossom trees in Waimea’s Church Row Park are the stars of the event.

The coordinating committee and the Parks and Recreation’s Culture & Education Division will work to pay tribute to individuals who helped build the festival, the department said.

“Several community partners have already pledged their support to assist in developing, coordinating, and producing newspaper inserts to ensure our communities can reminisce about what makes this annual tradition so special,” Messina said.

The festival is expected to return in 2023 for its 30th anniversary.

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