The 66th Cherry Blossom Festival got its official kick-off on Jan. 14 with the introduction of the 15 queen contestants at the New Year’s ‘Ohana Festival, presented by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is sponsored annually by the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce. This year’s festival theme is Inspire. “As the Cherry Blossom Festival enters its 66th year, we continue to be inspired by the effort and generosity of everyone who supports this annual tradition. We hope that our efforts to preserve and perpetuate Japanese culture and heritage inspire others to learn about their culture and make positive differences in the community,” said Crystine Ito, 66th Cherry Blossom Festival general chair and 2013 queen.
This year’s queen contestants are Momoka Briggs, Melanie Camille, Michiko Carrié, Kaydi Azure Hashima, Kylie Kimie Hisatake, Renni Fay Tomiko Iwasa, Karly Misako Kanehiro, Colette Mira Masunaga, Shelby Keiko Wai‘oluikamälie Meador, Cindy Shinae Nakagawa, Joy Makanaonalani Nakahara, Mika Lyn Nakashige, Jordie Reimi Watanabe Ocenar, Ariel Leiali‘i Stenek, Rhianna Rui Taniguchi and Kristen Kikuyo Yamamoto.
Events leading up to the Festival Ball include:
• Feb. 3: Public appearance at Pearlridge Center, noon.
• Feb. 10: Contestant reception at District Nightclub, 6 p.m.
• Feb. 17: Public appearance at Ala Moana Center, 5 p.m.
• Feb. 23: Golf tournament at Pearl Country Club, 11 a.m.
• Feb. 24: Public appearance at Ka Makana Ali‘i, noon.
The contestants’ experience will culminate with the Festival Ball, which will be held Saturday, March 17, at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel. The climax of the evening will be the crowning of the new queen and court.
For more information on the festival, visit cbfhawaii.com; or follow them on social media platforms – facebook.com/cbfhawaii, Twitter @cbfhi or Instagram @cherryblossomfestivalhawaii.