Devynn-Leigh Kochi, 16, of Ha‘ikü was crowned queen of the 62nd Chrysanthemum Festival, which was held Dec. 6 at the Velma McWayne Santos Community Center in Wailuku, Maui. Kochi is a junior at King Kekaulike High School and the daughter of Cindy Asato-Kochi and Kevin Kochi.
Named princesses were Arissa Molina, 16, of Kahului, a junior at Baldwin High School, and the daughter of Jana Yamashiro and Ariston Molina; and Courtney Lau Hee, 17, of Pukalani, a senior at Maui High School and the daughter Leslie and Mark Lau Hee.
The contestant who raises the most money through ticket sales for Maui’s Sons and Daughters of the Nisei Veterans is named the queen of the annual festival. The event was cosponsored by Maui’s Sons and Daughters and the County of Maui. The event included the crowning of the queen and the court’s traditional ballroom dance performance, Japanese cultural exhibits, entertainment and dinner.
Proceeds from the event support Maui’s Sons and Daughters’ historical preservation projects, which are done with the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center, and scholarships, awarded in partnership with Maui AJA Veterans Inc. Last year, $1,000 scholarships were awarded to eight graduates of high schools on Maui.
The contestants will also represent the Sons and Daughters and the NVMC at various events throughout the year.
Entertainers at the 2014 festival included Japanese dancers Mika Yamazaki (known professionally as Fujima Saeka) and her sensei (teacher), Karen Wasano (Fujima Saemitsu); Yaeko Yamamoto-Sensei and her students; and Yumi Takedatsu, who sang karaoke.
Cultural activities included calligraphy demonstrations by the Rev. Shinkai Murakami, mini flower arrangements by the Mokichi Okada Association and fan decorating by the King Kekaulike High School Japanese Club.
The festival was created as the Chrysanthemum Ball by the Maui AJA Veterans to help fund its community service projects. In 2007, the event name was changed to Chrysanthemum Festival to reflect its focus on Japanese culture. The following year, the veterans group turned the event over to Maui’s Sons and Daughters.