ALOHA FROM JENNIE: How did your hometown look and feel on the last day of year 2014? Due to our time zone status, Hawaii has the distinction of being the last state in the union to ring in the New Year, so when the ball drops in New York City's Times Square at midnight on the continental East Coast, islanders are enjoying dinnertime at 7 p.m., with a full five hours to go before 'our turn' to welcome 2015. We bring you the sights and sounds of our final eighteen hours of year 2014, from 6 a.m. to midnight.
The heavy rains and traffic jams from the preceding day have faded, and at dawn we awake to nippy (for us) breezes and temperature in the 60s. Traffic is lighter than usual as some people have a full or half day off, but the cars that are on the road seem to speed towards their destinations with a sense of urgency. It's time to pack in all the final errands of the year, clean out the old cobwebs at home, literally, and prepare for the new year. Shops in Chinatown are filled with shoppers seeking char siu (roasted pork) and duck, while sales of fireworks (with permits) and alcohol are brisk. Tamashiro fish market, with its traditional crab building fixture, is doing fast paced sales of fish, sashimi, and poki, all island favorites--luckily the fish supply has been plentiful this season. A local florist supplier is moving stocks of discounted Christmas poinsettias along with vibrant bouquets of fresh cut flowers to admiring customers.
Firework displays on Oahu will be taking place during the big metropolitan block party at Kakaako Waterfront Park located near Waikiki/Ala Moana. Over 15,000 attendees are anticipated for the area's events which include Ferris wheel rides, food and game booths. A barge in Waikiki is expected to set off 1,800 shells over the ocean, including designs of palm trees and falling leaves. The Kahala Hotel and Ko'olina resort on the island's leeward side will have shows of their own at the stroke of midnight. President Obama and his family and friends are wrapping up their 12th vacation day in their Kailua location after a day of golf.
Households are setting out Kadomatsu plant arrangements by their entryways. Bamboo and evergreen pine symbolizes prosperity and longevity, and plum trees represent stability, patience and consistency, desirable traits with which to take on the new year. Friends and family exchange mochi, usually the sweet rice cake morsels pictured here. Mochi is also used in savory preparations, such as soup and seafood, or grilled and coated in different sauces. The traditional pounding ceremony of the rice symbolizes the beating of ku (suffering) into submission.
As the day draws to a close, the atmosphere turns festive as family and friends begin to gather. Care is being taken by the owners of their beloved cats and dogs to make them as comfortable and secure as possible throughout the night. Everyone is starting to look forward to ushering out the tired year and beginning afresh with new possibilities. Across the globe, 2015 appears, first in New Zealand, making its way across Australia, Japan, China, Russia, Germany, England, Brazil, the coasts of the United States and Canada on Atlantic/Eastern time zones, then Central, Mountain, Pacific, Alaskan and Hawaiian, and finally reaching American Samoa. Here on the islands, we have the added benefit of ringing out the old year while enjoying the tranquility of a final year 2014 sunset. Various events and revelry build up steam, including a 'pineapple ball drop' in the town of Millani. Finally, the spectacular firework displays across the state welcome 2015 with hearty bangs and booms.
As we close the door on 2014 and look forward to a fresh year, may your next chapter be filled with peace, prosperity and good health. Hau'oli Makahiki Hou (happy new year)!