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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, September 9, 2002

Performers 'Give Aloha' to N.Y.

 •  Sept. 11 anniversary events
 •  Special Report: 9/11... One Year, One Nation

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

The song came to Jesse Rivera in his sleep, and yesterday — with the surf and a Waikiki sunset as a backdrop — Rivera, 70 Hawai'i entertainers and hundreds of people singing from the sand videotaped "Give Aloha" to commemorate Sept. 11 for the people of New York City.

Kiana Kamikawa, 10, of Halau Hula O Hokulani, rehearses for yesterday's taping of the "Give Aloha" video. The video, which features local entertainers and hundreds of beachgoers, will be sent to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Rivera, a singer/songwriter, woke up singing the words to "Give Aloha" four months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But yesterday, after it was fine tuned by Rivera, Kelly Boy DeLima, David "Kawika" Kahiapo and Kawika Crowley, "Give Aloha" served as the centerpiece for a six-minute Island all-star performance.

Kymberly Pine, one of the emcee's of the performance, read her script 90 minutes before the videotaping and was struck by her emotions.

"I just got chicken skin thinking about what we were doing," she said.

Once she arrived backstage, Pine got a new perspective.

"Here we are on the beach and we're continuing on with our lives," she said before the taping. "The best way we can honor the dead is to just keep on living."

The most meaningful part of "Give Aloha" to mark Sept. 11 is its chorus, Rivera said, which goes:

    "We are the people of these islands. We are the people of this world.
    "Let us give aloha — a love we all deserve.
    "Let us all come together — and make it a better place.
    "We do need one another — we are the human race."

"Give Aloha" was taped amid the city's Sunset on the Beach program at Queen's Surf. Among the people sharing the stage were Rivera, Amy Gilliom, Honolulu firefighters and police officers, the Kamehameha Schools Children's Chorus and "Auntie" Genoa Keawe, 83, who arrived with the help of a wheelchair.

"We all know how it hurts to lose someone you love," Keawe said backstage. "So it's very worthwhile to be here because we all know how they feel back there."

After the lyric, "Leave a legacy and plant a seed for our children to believe," Keawe got applause when she sang the solo line, "that they can play a part and make a start — to change this world you see."

People watching on the beach were given lei, miniature American flags, the lyrics to "Give Aloha" and were encouraged to sing and cheer.

Donna Calkins brought her Country Dancers of Hawai'i to the videotaping because both Hawai'i and New York mean much to her.

Calkins, a counselor and adviser for Kapi'olani Community College's nursing program, has lived in Hawai'i for 30 years. But she grew up in New York. And her cousin, William Gerity, escaped the World Trade Center only to have debris rain down on him. Gerity lost his left arm and left leg.

"The people of the country all realize that New Yorkers are resilient," Calkins said. "But it still feels good to send something back to my hometown."

The future of the "Give Aloha" videotape in New York is uncertain, said Clint Arnoldus, chairman, president and CEO of Central Pacific Bank, which sponsored the project.

Arnoldus plans to send it to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and hopes it might air on New York news broadcasts. But the videotape is a gift, he said, and how the people of New York use it is up to them.

"It's not important that it gets wide distribution," Arnoldus said. "What's important is that we in Hawai'i come together."

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8085.