Thousands of lanterns will light up Ala Moana Beach during annual Memorial Day ceremony

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – More than 50,000 people are expected to gather Monday evening on the shores of Ala Moana Beach Park as candle-lit lanterns float during Hawaii’s annual Shinnyo Lantern Ceremony to remember lost loved ones.

The organization said this year’s theme is “Many Rivers, One Ocean.” Organizers said they hope the ceremony can provide a space, both physical and emotional, for residents and visitors to experience a sense of comfort and healing.

A total of 6,000 candle-lit lanterns bearing memories, prayers and affirmations will be set afloat on Ala Moana Beach at sunset.

The line for the lanterns snaked through Ala Moana Beach Park earlier in the day — but the wait time was worth it for those honoring the lives lost.

Katie Heinen paid tribute to Terry, her best friend from college who was tragically killed in a mass shooting in Colorado.

Thousands of people are expected to gather at Ala Moana Beach to remember their loved ones during the annual Shinnyo lantern floating event.

She reflects on the moment she learned of Terry’s death.

“It wasn’t until the next morning that I woke up and got a flood of text messages,” Heinen said.

Her lantern read: “You are the funniest and sassy girl in the world. I love you and miss you, infinitely Queen Terry.

Kathleen Papst came from Kaneohe to float a lantern. One family member she chose to honor: her beloved dog Oliver.

“That’s him at the Rainbow Bridge,” Papst said. “I wanted to create something with the light shining through just to symbolize that there’s something more going on… to come out of those dark moments of grief.”

She also opened up about her experience with multiple miscarriages – and honored her lost children as well as her friends’ lost babies.

“It’s important to remember that these were lives that meant something and these were lives that were loved,” Papst said.

Some families have organized a day event to also enjoy the beach during this vacation.

Ian Imperial and his wife arrived around 4am.

“This is our first year,” Imperial said. “His grandfather passed away in November and we just wanted to honor him.”

This is the 25th anniversary of the organization of this special event.

Because this event is known for drawing large crowds, ceremony attendees can park anywhere at the Ala Moana Center on the day of the event by entering promo code LANTERN for 50% off. Unless you are doing business at the Ala Moana Center, please use the code to avoid any risk of towing or fines.

Those wishing to personally float a lantern will be able to receive a single individual lantern at the lantern request tent on the day of the event on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information about the event, visit

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