Cherry Blossom Festival is a huge event where a large segment of the island population descends upon Waimea for a day of celebration. there are booths and events all across town. There are cultural demonstrations, cooking demonstrations, performances, and lots of food available for an all day, all town festival.
With most of the parking on the south side of Keck observatory, the shopping mall parking lots, and the main event venue north of Keck at Church Row where the cherry trees are, a huge number of people cross the observatory lawns on their way to the festival. It is a natural fit for us to use the day for an outreach event.
The festival is also a very local event. Sure there are a few tourists drawn to Waimea for a festival. But, by and large this is a local event, the majority of attendees are island residents.
Residents of Waimea know to brace for the Christmas Parade. For an evening half the island population descends upon this little town. Days ahead of time, the parking spots along the street, far from the store’s front doors, normally empty, will be full of pickup trucks as people stake out their favorite spot to watch the parade.
The main road closes at 5:30pm, important to know as this closure cuts the ring road around the island. By this time the crowd has grown to a size that is quite surprising on this island. Are there actually that many people here?
This year Keck and CFHT cooperated on a float. Really a decorated truck like most entries in the parade. We handed out glow sticks and glow bracelets to the kids along the parade route. walking along with the group is fun, of course I have a camera along.
After the parade it was time for a star party… Only one issue… Calling it a star party is a bit of a misnomer. There were no stars, there were no telescopes. Two ‘scopes did get set up briefly, then the rain began. With the ongoing winter storm there were only a few glimpses of the moon through the clouds, otherwise nothing to see. The telescopes stayed in the vehicles.
All day the storm atop our mountain continued. As we watched in the cameras the snow fell heavily, often so thick nearby structures disappeared into the white. Unlike yesterday the winds have eased, the snow quickly accumulates where it falls instead of drifting against the structures. As we watch through the day things began to vanish, railings and guardrails buried in the snow.
The snowplow crews made it to the summit, if only briefly. One pass on the summit ridge near UKIRT could be seen in the cameras as the snow plow passed by. As quickly as they cleared the road the storm again covered it with white. The crews soon realized the futility and retreated down the mountain. They will not even attempt to try tomorrow as the forecast remains dire. They will next attempt to clear the road on Sunday.
Observing is, of course, cancelled.
Walking from the Sun to Neptune is easy… At least when they are set up in a scale model along main street Waimea.
A fun day… The Sun, telescopes, the planets, a few asteroids represented by meteorites, and plenty of activities for the kids. It was a great day to be in Waimea as CFHT and Keck put on the Solar System Walk 2016…