Cherry Blossom Queen comes home for a visit

LIHUE — Crystine Ito, the 61st Cherry Blossom Festival Queen, and First Princess Lori Higashi, were swarmed Friday when they visited the Lihue Hongwanji Preschool.

Ito, a 2007 graduate of Kapaa High School, came home on a community service tour, visiting the preschool she attended, her high school alma mater, and will be involved in several community projects.

“It is very important to me, being from Kauai, to give back to the island which has given me so much,” Ito said.

During the stop at the Lihue Hongwanji Preschool, the entourage, including “Uncle Mike” Young and Sydette Higuchi of the Hawaii Japanese Chamber of Commerce, had the preschool rocking with rounds of “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”

Not stopping there, Ito and Higashi taught the students the Japanese words for “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” getting help from eager preschool students in doing the round in Japanese.

“This is the preschol I attended and where my nephew, Tai Ito-Fernandez, is currently enrolled in,” Ito said, her teachers noting how even while she was in preschool, they knew Ito had “queenly” qualities.

“Right now, the state legislature is on break and I’m trying other things,” Ito, a Political Science degree holder, said. “I’m doing some medical assistant work with Castle Medical and I’m working at Rainbow Drive-Inn as an administrative assistant. The Cherry Blossom Festival people have been really good about being flexible with my schedule.”

Her tour through Kauai also includes stops at the Kapaa High School where she will speak with freshmen on higher education, making good choices, the importance of community service, and planning for their future.

Following the school visits, Ito will be teaming with the Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park and the Hawaiian Islands Beautiful group to clean up the popular beach park.

The Kauai tour wraps up with Ito and her entourage volunteering at the Kauai Habitat for Humanity’s Build-a-thon at two new Anahola home sites.

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@


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