anniversary at August Ahrens Elementary School, Tucker Field. The celebration is presented by Waipahu Community Association (WCA) and its collaborating partners Leeward YMCA, the FilCom Center and Hawaii’s Plantation Village.
Henry Aquino, Executive Director of WCA, said of the anniversary “this is a milestone that is momentous for our community. Waipahu has always been a place of rich heritage that is deeply rooted from our plantation past. To be a part of this celebration means a lot and gives all residents of today to look back and to see how far we’ve come.” Aquino, the state representative of parts of Waipahu and Waikele, welcomes current and past Waipahu residents, and the rest of our island-community to join the festivity.
As one of the oldest hubs outside of Honolulu, Waipahu is a special place for many Oahu residents. Some have remained in the community; others moved to nearby neighborhoods but still have a deep connection to Waipahu. Ron Kawano, now a Pearl City resident, has fond memories of Waipahu town. His father Roy and his uncles, owned Kawano Store, a popular general merchandise store on Waipahu street. It was a bustling place that was in business for 55 years, then, a fixture in Waipahu town. People would go there, buy products, and talk story in and outside of the store. The Kawanos were one of the pioneering family business owners in the area.
“I remember the Sugar Mill. As children, we used to go the mill to get raw sugar. Growing up in Waipahu was fun and we had many things to do, riding bikes, playing in the sugar cane fields, fishing in the streams. Waipahu has changed a lot. It’s less of a town now and becoming more like a larger suburban community like other parts of West Oahu.”
A graduate of Waipahu High School’s old campus, Kawano plans to attend the anniversary celebration. In fact, August Ahrens Elementary School, the celebration-site, is where he attended grade-school.
Thousands of residents might have left Waipahu, but they will always have that soft spot for the town they call home, along with the other thousands of new families to Waipahu and current residents.
Dr. Charlie Sonido, who has lived and practiced medicine in Waipahu for 34 years, said “I've seen Waipahu slowly evolve from a sugar plantation town to a commercial shopping mecca. I'd like it to preserve some of the old plantation ambiance as outlined in Transit Oriented Plan recently approved by the City Council.”
Some of the city plans were taken from the Waipahu community’s recommendations in its Waipahu Town Action plan.
According to the Star Advertiser, projects listed in the draft plan that were allocated funding include upgrades to the Waipahu Transit Center, which will cost $3.5 million for construction and is slated to start early next year. Work would cover sidewalk widening and improved bus shelters. The city has allocated $500,000 for the planning and design of studies to address areawide flooding and $200,000 to develop a master plan for Hans L’Orange Park. City officials also plan to upgrade street lighting island-wide, including in Waipahu, in the next two years.
Other proposals that have not yet received funding yet include connecting Waipahu town to the Pearl Harbor Historic Trail and redesigning Moloalo Street for better access to rail and businesses.
There are also plans to rezone some residential, commercial and rental areas along the future rail transit going through Waipahu.
Celebrate good times
The extravaganza celebration on November 18 will have that special trio-recipe that makes up all memorable fiestas: great food, great company, and great fun.
Local foods galore -- similar to the Taste of Waipahu residents love to go to, the extravaganza will have local favorites and ethnic foods. Whiffs of fresh bread, caramelized onions, burgers, and plate lunches will come at you from all directions. Some of the food vendors include: Da Ultimate Grindz Hawaii, Uncle Lani's Poi Mochi, Mega-Load Burgers, Hello Yelo Ice Candy, Erin's Shave Ice and Elena's Filipino Food, along with food trucks. Best bet that lumpia and pancit will be served up for everyone hankering for Filipino food.
Craft-lovers will be pleased to see unique, one-of-a-kind goods on sale. It is a perfect time to buy gifts for the holiday season just around the corner and at the same time support local artists, the local economy.
Lots of games and rides will keep children happy. Teenagers will be raving over the “Dephine Yourself Hip Hop Dance Competition.” Waipahu youths always have been known to have some of the best street dancers, or crews, in the state. So old and new hip hop fans can see the latest moves from Waipahu youths at the competition. And everyone can appreciate the variety of popular and ethnic entertainment planned.
Some of the entertainers scheduled are Dr. Nestor Del Rosario, a vocalist who regularly performs with Doctors-On-Stage productions; Benny and the Cruisers, a band that plays classic hits, Motown, disco, Jawaiian; Island Storm, a popular local band that plays soul and reggae; Cover 5; and Tevita Apina, known for Japanese Enka Singing.