HILO, Hawaii: The maile lei was untied at the new playground in the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens, after a blessing on Saturday morning. Then, a rampage of kids rushed to try out the state of art facility.
The unveiling of the new playground was a community effort. A group of 40 to 60 volunteers led by the five East Hawaii Lions Clubs erected these swings and slides, and that was after a few companies donated their services preparing the site.
Deputy Parks and Rec Director Clayton Honma thanked Craig Takamine of Takamine Construction, who donated his company’s services laying the concrete foundation.
Also chipping in to help: Infinity Pumping, Loeffler Construction, Island Wide Concrete Pumping, Rannikks Auto Specialists and Bob’s Fencing. Honma also gave credit to Pam Mizuno, the Zoo Complex Manager, for securing the funds to make the playground a reality.
Mayor Billy Kenoi said the new playground is just another reason why the free public zoo is such a special place.
The newly elected president of the Friends of the Zoo, Pat Engelhard, expressed her thanks to the volunteers who made the new playground – and the many other zoo exhibits – possible.
The playground wasn’t the only big attraction on Saturday. It was also the 13th birthday of Namaste, the white bengal tiger.
Crowds watched as Namaste enjoyed his traditional birthday bone cake, and later, a basketball – in the absence of the traditional pumpkin.
The Hawaii County Band also played in honor of the tiger’s birthday.