“There must have been a thousand people all over the island,” hollered a jubilant Rev. Roy “Rocky” Sasaki into his cell phone as he drove back from the Westside after Kauaians all over the island held up signs to show their support of programs to stop the crystal methamphetamine (“ice”) problem on Kaua‘i yesterday afternoon.
“We’re all together in this, and we’ll keep doing this again and again,” was the message spread today, said Sasaki. “People really agreed with the sign-holders,” honking and waving as they drove by, he said.
It was like a parade in Lihu‘e at the Kaua‘i Veterans Center on Kapule Highway. Between 80 and 100 people filled both sides of the highway, holding signs, laughing, yelling, and waving at passersby. They were there to get involved in the community effort to end ice addiction on Kaua‘i.
“I’m praying that this will make a difference,” said Carrie Myers, who brought her children Carson and Madeline with her. “We need people to be involved. They can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist. It’s been a ‘not-me’ issue for so long.”
Even “Crystal Meth Anonymous” meeting pamphlets were handed out. The ad-hoc organization is now meeting at Lydgate Park Pavilion at 7 a.m., seven days a week.
People from numerous groups were along Kapule Highway co-mingling, from the Kaua‘i High School Association of Travel and Tourism to church groups, to Kaua‘i Marriott employees, to families and friends.
The joyous atmosphere was somewhat clouded by the realism that almost all the people on the sides of the road had been affected in some way by ice.
“I know what a mother goes through when a child is on ice,” said Rowena, a grandmother. “We want to fight ice. We want to make it better so our grandchildren” don’t have to deal with the horrors of ice addiction.
“The next generation is dying out,” she said.
Stella Duarte brought a special sign, designed by her son, a recovering ice addict, who felt uncomfortable with attending the festivities. She held it up for him, she said.
“It feels good to be out here,” said Duarte. “You can’t just say it. You have to do it.”
Those who use ice “need to know people are out there, going to be watching them,” said Sharon, whose stepdaughter had three children taken away because of her ice addiction. “That’s why people have to get involved.”
“The whole thing is for the youth, the kids,” said the Rev. Larry Matsuwaki, pastor of Thy Word Ministries.
“Everybody is related to each other over here, so it’s somebody’s cousin” who is smoking ice, he said. “That’s why it has to be a community effort.”
Staff Writer Tom Finnegan may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 226).