(BIVN) – This year’s Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival has been cancelled.
On Friday, the Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation said the decision was made due to the current surge of COVID-19 cases on Hawai‘i Island.
“On January 6, 2022, the coordinating committee of the Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival met to discuss the upcoming event, which was scheduled for February 5, at various sites throughout Waimea,” said Maurice Messina, Director of Parks and Recreation. “At the meeting, concerns were raised about the current surge of Covid-19 cases on Hawai‘i Island and if it is appropriate at this time to hold an event that has traditionally attracted 30,000+ visitors to the Waimea area. Many people have worked hard to make the Cherry Blossom Festival one of the island’s premier events, and the committee expressed that they felt obligated to cancel this year’s event out of concern and love for their community,” said Messina.
The week before the cancellation announcement, organizers said the event would be held but would be “scaled down to less venues and allow for social distancing” and that masks would be required by attendees. Along with the traditional lineup of Japanese and multi-cultural performing arts, the 2022 festival planned to honor the late Kikuko Kibe and volunteer J. Jay West, both of Waimea.
Officials say they will “work on a plan to pay tribute to all those who have helped bring the Cherry Blossom Festival from its humble beginnings to what is now a cherished annual event on our island.”
“Several community partners have already pledged their support to assist in developing, coordinating, and producing newspaper inserts to ensure our communities can reminisce about what makes this annual tradition so special,” Messina said. “Although we regret to have to cancel this year’s event, we’re looking forward to bringing back the traditional Waimea Cherry Blossom Festival in 2023 – which will be its 30th anniversary.”