Five decades after the devastation, Hilo holds special events

Video by David Corrigan and Baron Sekiya (, voice of Tim Bryan

This weekend marked a milestone in Hilo town history. 50 years ago, a tsunami devastated the coast of the Big Island, virtually erasing the town of Waiakea from existence.

On the morning May 23, 1960, an earthquake off the coast of Chile sent the deadly tidal surge to Hawaii Island, where it took 61 lives in the resulting disaster.

Now, five decades later, a number of events were held to commemorate the date…

Over a thousand residents reunited at the Civic Auditorium to “Remember Waiakea Town”.

Half of the Civic was transformed into a museum of old Waiakea culture… makeshift storefronts, maps, and informational displays created a feeling of nostalgia amongst the onlookers, a handful of whom actually survived the disaster 5o years ago.

Of course, the other half of the building became a giant dining room, where the public enjoyed the other attraction of the evening… the food.

On Sunday, a special ceremony was held at the tsunami clock.

The 12-foot-tall green clock was erected in 1939, and the landmark survived the 1960 tsunami, although its hands remain frozen at 1:04.

Family members offered flowers to remember the 61 men, women and children who lost their lives in the 1960 disaster.

Takayoshi Kanda, the Keeper of the Clock, was also on hand for the ceremony.

The Waiakea Pirates Athletic Club is credited with refurbishing the clock, and hosting the special event.

Later that evening, the 8th annual Tsunami Talk Story Festival was held at Sanga Hall in Hilo.

This year’s the