Thursday, June 18, 2009

Community Spirits / Hilo, Hawaii

I grew up in a very small village in Germany. One could think that community spirit was an essential part of the daily life.
Well, it took me some decades more and a city on Hawaii to get a clue about what I never understood as a teenager living on the countryside.

I spent some days in the relatively small town Hilo on Big Island. Hilo was very sleepy compared to the much bigger city Kona on the other side of the island. It was one of the best decisions I made on Hawaii to prefer the sleepy Hilo to the shiny Kona.

Terry, the guy at the reception desk of my hostel reminded me of the monthly street party this night because its stage was directly below the window of my dormitory.
He told me that some time ago some locals organized a party called "The Black & White Night" to raise money for a welfare project.
The guests were requested to appear in a black & white outfit and the party took place in the streets of the small city center.
The inhabitants liked the event so much that they decided to have a Black & White party every month.

Together with a fellow traveller I strolled the streets at night and was stunned. All the shops were open til late and decorated in B&W. Most of the folks were dressed or costumed in B&W too and dozens of local clubs organized some activity.

The atmosphere was very friendly and all the people were constantly greeting each other with hugs and laughter - everyone seemed to know everyone.

This group was on a kind of challenge trying to accomplish fun-tasks from a piece of paper like finding strangers singing a song or 10 people with a name starting with a certain character. We talked and it turned out that their church had a "Bring your neighbor" weekend. They invited me with a lot of very funny statements and laughter to their service on Sunday.
I never saw believers in Germany living their believes in such a positive and open way.

In one of the shops I saw some globes. While I was rotating one of them I realized how far away from home I was.

The kids danced on every junction and there wasn't a real distinction between audience and members of the band regarding enthusiasm.

The big Irish community knew best how to party and Heike and I watched some Irish girls dancing to the sound of a huge band consisting only of a single family. Really a kind of Hawaiian Irish Kelly Family. I loved it.

My evening ended in a fabulous candy shop. It was funny to watch the customers making a big fuzz about their personal selection of sweets.

I visited a street party in the small German town Herzogenaurach last weekend. It was the kind of event I saw a lot of times before in the last decades. Nothing spectacular but cosy and neat. Without the Black & White Night it probably would have been just one more boring countryside celebration. This certain night in Hilo, Hawaii, helped me to re-gain my sense for community spirit and enthusiasm a little bit. I enjoyed all the small activities like fishing for wooden fishes by the local Photo Club, the choir singing traditional German folk songs or even the very horrible band.
Thank you Hilo.

Four impressions from the town party in Herzogenaurach, Germany

1 comment:

  1. Please, write something about Soweto!