Hawaiʻi Comes Together for Lei of Aloha for Las Vegas
Nearly 22,000 people were in attendance at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas on Sunday, Oct. 1.
Country singer Jason Aldean was on-stage when, at 10:08 p.m., 64-year-old Stephen Paddock began shooting down from his 32nd floor hotel room at Mandalay Bay into the crowd of concert-goes across the street.
Fifty-nine people died and more than 500 people were injured in what is being called the deadliest mass shooting in US history.
To show their support for the people of Las Vegas, a group on Maui is currently working on a mile-long Lei of Aloha to send to the city. The group first started the Lei of Aloha after the 2015 Terrorist Attacks in Paris and also made a mile-long lei following the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando.
The lei are to show support and to spread Aloha in times of need.
“This is just a reminder of life and that no one can take away our freedom,” said Lei of Aloha supporter Kahu Alalani Hill. “We’re all here to give hope, the Lei of Aloha is an extension that no matter the color of your skin, religion, Hawaiian, Caucasian, gay or straight, we’re all connected and when we weave this lei we become one.”
Members of the Maui community have been dropping off ti leaves and helping to weave part of the mile-long lei at Nalu’s South Shore Grill in Kīhei. Dozens of participants came to show support and help weave Tuesday evening.
The group says they were already working on a mile-long lei for the 8th Annual Paddle For Life event on Oct. 8, when news broke of the mass shooting in Las Vegas and is now working on two mile-long lei.
When the group started the Lei of Aloha for Paris and for Orlando it was mostly members from the Maui community participating. However, the mass shooting in Las Vegas, also referred to as the ninth island, has other islands wanting to assist in the lei too.
“There’s people coming through this that of course know people, thousands and thousands of people,” Hill said. “We all went to Las Vegas for business or to play and so many people in Hawaiʻi, because of family or the economy, have moved to Las Vegas. We have a lot of our people out there, it’s an island we don’t forget. Las Vegas is so connected to us and we know the spirit of Aloha is living out there,” Hill added.
Ron Panzo, managing owner of Nalu’s South Shore Grill, said he’s been getting calls from Kauaʻi and Oʻahu who will each do a portion of the mile-long lei. He became emotional when he told Maui Now about a call he received from a group in Bakersfield California, “Some of the people there are reaching out to us who were right there, right in the concert when it happened and the stories they shared are horrific and they want to be part of the lei now.”
Panzo said the group in Bakersfield saw the stories regarding the lei via social media and news outlets and wanted to be “a part of the healing and sending prayers to the victims there.”
“That whole community, even those not involved that night at the concert, that whole community is effected right now. This lei seems like a vehicle to send everyone’s loves and prayers there and let everyone know that we care and we’re feeling this horrific act even though we’re on the other side of the Pacific Ocean,” Panzo added.
“There are no words,” Hill said. “To Las Vegas, all of our love is going to all of you and is inside every weave and every prayer and every single hā, every breath, of this moment.”
Members of the Maui community are encouraged to stop by Nalu’s South Shore Grill in Kīhei to drop off ti leaves, help de vein the ti leaves, or assist in weaving the two mile-long lei. The restaurant will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Nalu’s staff and members of Lei of Aloha will be on-hand to assist those who aren’t familiar with weaving.
A video will be posted shortly with interviews.