LIHU‘E — A large crowd circulated through the Kukui Grove Center Monday during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration of Peace, sponsored by the Interfaith Roundtable of Kaua‘i.
The event, which ran from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., celebrated joy, love, hope and peace through speeches, song and dance, crafting and listening.
“Obviously, peace is something that’s dear to all of our hearts,” Catherine Stovall, chair of the Interfaith Roundtable, said after welcoming and thanking those in attendance.
Before opening the festivities with a Hawaiian blessing, Hana Montgomery quoted the late Dr. King, who once said, “I’ve decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
“We are so thankful for Martin Luther King and what he has done for everybody,” Montgomery said. “Today we can see what has happened throughout the years and the acceptance of everyone.”
Montgomery added that it is up to all of us to follow King’s example by teaching and living with aloha.
“Aloha is in our hearts,” she said. “Aloha starts with us and we have to do it every day, not just talk about it. It’s an everyday thing.”
Following Montgomery’s blessing, Mark Jeffers of Hanapepe Storybook Theatre welcomed the groups. About a dozen tables were set up, including Interfaith Roundtable, Aloha Peace Project, Life’s Bridges, Kaua‘i Food Bank, Brama Kumaris, Kapa‘a High School, the Hindu Temple and Hanapepe Storybook Theatre. Children arts and crafts included face painting, perfume making, Chalk 4 Peace and writing letters for students at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Representing the Mayor’s Office, Kealoha Takahashi, director of the Kaua‘i County Agency on Elderly Affairs, read a proclamation from Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.
“Whereas, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. devoted his life to advancing equality, social justice and opportunity to all, and challenged all Americans to participate in the never-ending work of building a more perfect union … I, Bernard P. Carvalho Jr., Mayor of the County of Kaua‘i … do hereby proclaim the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday as a Day of Service on Kaua‘i, and call upon the people of Kaua‘i to pay tribute to the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King,” the proclamation read in part.
After a heart-pounding performance by Tsunami Taiko, KQNG on-air personality Ron Wiley shared a few words about King, who he described as a “phenomenal, extraordinary” man.
“I had the great privilege of interviewing him in 1966, I think it was,” Wiley said. “There was a couple of things he really wanted to be remembered for, and that was making peace in a nonviolent way.”
“We’re waging peace by being here today,” Jeffers told the crowd.
With that, Wiley and Jeffers announced the winners of the 2012 Peacemaker Awards, sponsored by the Storybook Theatre and the Hanapepe Hawaiian Church.
Adarah Fujita, a student at Kapa‘a High School, took the Kaua‘i Peace Maker award in the youth category and Jodi Nitta-Goo, a counselor at Kalaheo School, received the Kaua‘i Peace Educator award. Both could not attend the event and their awards were accepted by friends and coworkers on their behalf.
“(The final award) has to do with somebody who’s doing something big,” Jeffers said. “And something big has been going on and brewing for a long time.”
Laura Taylor, founder of the Aloha Peace Project, received the Kaua‘i Peace Maker award in the adult category. The Aloha Peace Project involves interactive activities, exhibits and training programs that teach children about peace in their everyday lives and the wider world, according to the project’s website.
“Martin Luther King knew how important it was to involve masses of people to make changes,” Taylor said. “It is still true today that we need communities to join together to support peaceful living. The Aloha Peace Project begins with young children when they form their habits.”
Other entertainment during the Celebration of Peace included Universal Dances of Peace led by Steve Backinoff, Love Tribe African Drumming, the Kapa‘a High School Peer Mediation Team under the direction of instructor Keith Kitamura, the Lihu‘e Tongan Choir, Hindu chanting and the Jewish Shalom song to conclude the event.
Annaleah Atkinson, the event chair, said she was very pleased with the turnout, especially the children who came and learned about peace.
“I am pleased with the big-heartedness and the generosity of the performers and presenters,” Atkinson said.
“I thank them for bringing their gifts, whether it was information or activities for the kids.”
On Sunday, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i) released a statement celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“Dr. King moved the nation to stand up against intolerance and fight injustice, and the people of Hawai‘i have a unique understanding of Dr. King’s dream,” she wrote.
“We are a diverse people of many stories and many cultures. We know that while our differences may define us, they should never divide us … It is up to all of us to continue Dr. King’s fight for peace and justice, and I join the nation in celebrating his legacy.”
• Chris D’Angelo, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 241) or firstname.lastname@example.org.