Mayor Kenoi bestowed with a paper lei of over 500 names expressing appreciation

HALAULA, Hawaii: A blessing and dedication ceremony for a renovated and expanded Keokea Beach Park was held Saturday morning.

The scenic North Kohala park, just a few miles away from Pololu Valley, hosted a crowd of Kohala residents, the Friends of Kēōkea Beach Park, Mayor Billy Kenoi, and other Hawaii County officials for a festive celebration, and blessing.

Sarah Pule-Fujii, president of the “Friends of Keokea Beach Park” organization, untied the maile lei to the park’s main pavilion, which had been closed since it was badly damaged by the 6.7-magnitude earthquake that struck near Kiholo Bay in October 2006. Keokea, which spans more than 7 acres, has since undergone extensive repairs totaling $1.4 million.

A renovated kitchen, a larger main pavilion, new restrooms, and paved accessible walkways now greet visitors. Anbe, Aruga and Ishizu Architects Inc. prepared the plans for the project, while Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd. was the general contractor.

Fujii said her organization did their part, too. Recently, a group of roughly 75 volunteers performed maintenance, landscaping and other chores, prior to the big re-opening.

Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Clayton Honma said its one of the stronger partnerships on the island.

In appreciation of Mayor Billy Kenoi’s part in the renovation… a special gift: a gigantic lei made up of the names of over 500 Kohala residents who signed a thank you to the mayor for his effort. The lei was so long, it took almost 10 minutes to prepare it to drape over Kenoi’s head…

The mayor spoke highly of the Kohala community during an interview afterwards.

Meanwhile, the Kupuka‘as, John Keawe, and DJ Darren Bermudez serenaded the attendees with free live music.

Keokea Beach Park’s completion represents the Department of Parks and Recreation’s final Kiholo Bay earthquake-related project, joining Ikuo Hisaoka Gym at Kamehameha Park, Pa‘auilo Gym Annex and others that underwent safety repairs before being reopened for public use.