LIHUE — One parent waiting with a brood of keiki said the Kukui Grove team was just teasing them Monday morning as she waited patiently for the blessing conducted by Kelvin Ho to conclude.
Ho officiated at the dedication ceremony that opened the Kukui Grove “Keiki Corner” play area to the anxious audience of several hundred keiki that came because it was a holiday, and the first day of the Department of Education public school fall break.
“This is great,” said Evalen Daligdig of Wailua who brought her children, John and Rosa. “This is wonderful. The kids are going to enjoy this.”
The play area carries the mountains-to-sea motif by depicting the ocean’s shore on a safety playground floor, bringing the Kukui Grove customer to the water’s edge in the exhibition area for the land phase leading into the mountains. Punctuating the floor are play structures that are safe for toddlers through elementary school aged youngsters with an abundance of turtles and other artifacts found along the ocean’s shore.
“This is fun for the kids,” said Vaughn Nebre who was keeping an eye on his daughter Aivah who discovered that turtles can be fun to ride. “This place is good for the kids. It keeps them occupied with something to do while mom takes care of shopping. And, there’re lots of seats for dads, too.”
The play area dedication Monday was also enhanced by the collaboration between several community partners including the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, Aquatics Division, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, the Showtime Characters, and Rocky Pascua of Ainofea to enhance the experience with marine awareness education as well as balloon sculptures and face painting.
David Sosner, Kukui Grove general manager, said the play area is part of his commitment to take care of families who visit the shopping center as a gathering place.
The Keiki Corner play area is also part of the ongoing improvements to enhance the Kukui Grove experience taking place throughout the shopping center.
Melissa McFerrin-Warracck, special events coordinator at Kukui Grove, said in addition to the play area blessing, the floors to the food court area will also open.
“We’ve had to close it for a few days,” McFerrin-Warrack said. “People wanting to enjoy the food from the food court area vendors have been inconvenienced by this closure for a new floor. We’ve also had to re-schedule several events because of the closure. But that is all behind us. We’ve got the floor open, again. The ‘Ohana Family Night bingo will take place this Friday evening.”
Sosner, still wearing his tape rule during the blessing of the play area, said he was doing so because he was working on yet another project from the improvements campaign.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.