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Kekaha Fourth revisits plantation days

KEKAHA — There was a touch of yester-year in Kekaha as the sun beat down Friday morning.

“It’s been a long time since we had a Fourth of July celebration,” said Mary Jane Buza, one of the steering committee members for the Kekaha celebration. “We are trying to bring back that feeling when we used to get together as a community on days like this.”

The nostalgic atmosphere permeated the Kekaha Park as event attendees strongly suggested a visit to the Plantation Days booth.

Larry Manuel, one of the organizer for that area, had an array of items from the plantation days era.

“The hardest thing was trying to get the items from the people so we could display them,” Manuel said. “But did you check out the refurbished kerosene stove?”

Manuel had faithfully restored a two-burner kerosene stove complete with new springs for the fuel dispensing bottle. Two other bottles lay to the side awaiting refurbishing efforts.

That icon of plantation life of yester-year extracted stories from people who stopped and remembered the days when the kerosene man would make weekly visits to replenish fuel supplies.

Also on hand, Manuel had photos of three waves of Filipino immigrants who arrived here as labor for the plantations.

“My dad was in the third wave and we have these pictures here because some of the people in the picture are here today,” Manuel said. “We’re going to try and identify some of the people we don’t know in the photos.”

Buza said the entire event featured a day filled with entertainment and capped by a fireworks show.

“We put a challenge out in the community and Syngenta Seeds came out as a platinum donor for its contribution to this event,” Buza said. “Monsanto came out a bronze donor, and this event is co-sponsored by the County of Kaua‘i Office of Economic Development through the efforts of Robbie Kaholokula.”

That enabled the committee to offer craft and food booths at “almost-free prices” to Westside organizations, Buza said.

Among those who took advantage of this was the Kina‘ole Volleyball Club which was formed in February of this year. Another program was the Westside basketball team which is currently participating in the 3 G’s Nation competitive league. Others included St. Theresa School which featured not only food booths, but game and craft booths as well.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com

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