More than 700 residents of Lahaina, Hawaii, found a temporary escape from the reality of a deadly wildfire that ravaged their town in an impromptu concert held on Sunday. The wildfire, which occurred on August 8, claimed the lives of at least 115 people, and many of the attendees at the concert either lost their homes or knew someone who did.
Under the bright sun at Honokowai Beach Park, the residents came together to sing along to songs performed by various bands, including the popular Reggae group Common Kings. Despite the tears and pain, the concert provided a moment of happiness for the community.
Santos Balenzuela, a 24-year-old who lost his home and job as a result of the wildfire, expressed his desire for good times after experiencing the bad. In the aftermath of the fire, Balenzuela initially slept in his car and then relied on couch surfing for accommodation. Currently, he is staying at a hotel with assistance from the Red Cross.
The concert was organized by local volunteers who aimed to uplift the spirits of their fellow Lahaina residents. The event, which lasted for hours and included donated food and drinks, took place at Honokowai Beach Park, a well-known gathering place for the community.
Residents came out in support of their friends and family who had suffered losses in the wildfire, as well as to pay respect to those who lost their lives. Sheldon Tateyama, one of the volunteers, donated all the musical equipment for the concert. He echoed the sentiments of many, emphasizing the importance of keeping the community’s spirits high.
Throughout the day, residents engaged in activities such as fishing, biking, and playing volleyball. People took group pictures and enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere provided by the calming ocean waves. As the day came to an end, the setting sun painted the sky in shades of orange.
For many attendees, the concert was a way to temporarily forget their grief. The event brought the community together and provided a moment of respite from the challenges they faced. As one resident expressed, once the chaos subsides, they can then allow themselves to grieve.