The Akaka Falls Lions Club members and guests commemorated the club’s first 50 years of service to the community with an upbeat program emceed by Lion Kaloa Robinson on a sunny Saturday morning, Sept. 14, at Akaka Falls State Park.
An opening chant from Kahu Kimo Awai and speeches from Akaka Falls Lions officers started the program. The highlight of the program was a history of Akaka Falls by longtime resident Sam Ho Chee, the father of Akaka Falls Lions member Sandra Kalehua and the daughter of Aunty Hattie Ho Chee, one of the co-authors of the legendary and beautiful “Akaka Falls” song. He talked about the town of Honomu and its history, and about the love legend of Akaka.
The evening banquet at Nani Mau Gardens was another significant event in a beautiful setting. Table displays featured photos of Akaka Falls Lions Club activities – service projects, social and fund-raising events, a sponsors “tree” indicating the many Lions who sponsored or were sponsored into the club, pictures of all current members, pins from the many clubs and dignitaries in district 50, and historical documents delineating the origins of the club. Also on display was the original charter of the club, which was founded on July 1, 1963.
Entertainment was provided during the fellowship hour by Lion Ray Peralta, affectionately known as “Sugar Ray” by his colleagues. Lion Crystal Robledo led her “O. G. HE RE” Tahitian Dance group in the after dinner portion of the program, to the delight of the members and guests, especially when they singled out several of the Akaka Falls Lions to dance with them.
The program, emceed by Lions Diane Kent and Richard Unoki, consisted of a proclamation by Mayor Billy Kenoi, a resolution commending Akaka Falls Lions from Rep. (and Hamakua Lion member) Mark Nakashima, congratulatory messages from District 50 dignitaries, and featured a 17-minute video of activities from both the distant past and recent years. The three charter members, Lions Myron Isherwood Jr., Hiroshi Shima and Minoru “Winchell” Shimabukuro, and their spouses, were recognized for their long years of service and dedication to the club. They provided many insights on the history of the club and how it has grown to be among the best and most active in the district.
Also featured on the program were reflections on their experience in the club by past District Gov. Alan Garson and Lion Glen “Shige” Shigehara, and from more recent inductees, Lions Ryan Kadota and Rockelle Augustin.
The entire club sang two songs, “We’d Rather Belong to the Lions” and the beautiful “Akaka Falls” song written by Helen Lindsey Parker and Hattie Ho Chee.
The event culminated with a “banzai” toast, led by Lion Shige and Crescent City Lions President Dwayne Mukai, and the closing song, “Hawaii Pono‘i,” led by Lions Walter Otomo and Tani Matsubara.
There were many references to the theme, “Honoring Our Past, Embracing Our Future,” in both the rhetoric, and in the variety of individuals — “old-timers” and recent recruits — who participated in the program.