Hawaiians travel to Orlando to honor Pulse victims

Group from Maui delivers 49-foot lei to 3 Orlando spots

Orlando, Fla. - Representatives from Hawaii delivered a special gift to Orlando on Wednesday.

A 49-foot lei was flown in from Maui to honor the lives lost in the Pulse nightclub tragedy on June 12.

It took four truckloads of flowers and 400 volunteers four days to create the “Lei of Aloha.”

The lei has 49 shells, each inscribed with the name of one victim.

“It represents joy, love and healing and peace. That’s what we’re hoping it will do for everyone here,” said Lehua Kekehuna, one of the visitors from Maui.

The group from Maui made its first such lei after last year’s terrorist attacks in Paris. They made a “Lei of Aloha” and delivered it there to honor the victims of the Paris attacks.

“The only difference with this one when we found out about the tragedy, there was three special places that we wanted to take the lei. So what we did was split the lei in three," said Kekahuna.

One part of the lei was taken to the club to honor the victims. Another part was laid at Orlando Regional Medical Center to show support for the wounded and those who helped them survive. The third part was dedicated in front of the Doctor Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Each piece of the lei was prayed over during a special Hawaiian prayer ceremony before being placed.

Kekahuna said the prayer asked for guidance, strength and knowledge to represent their islands while in Orlando and to help residents get through the tragic event. It also represented “the love and aloha” that went into making the lei.

"I just think it's an amazing thing that we have people from all over the world that want to do memorials to the victims of the Pulse tragedy," Commissioner Patty Sheehan said. "And I think this is just one more example of how love conquers evil.”

She said the city is working with a floral preservation company to create special shadow boxes for each victim’s family from the display in City Hall.

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