Waimea Outdoor Circle and the Lion’s Club replace vandalized trees for Arbor Day

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<p>Leningrad Olarionoff, former County councilman and nurseryman talks story with Fred Nonaka as he trims the ohia that Olarionoff grew prior to planting it at Anuenue Park as a replacement for the trees that were vandalized. (PHOTO BY SARAH ANDERSON| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>
<p>Fred Nonaka trims the red ohia prior to planting it. Nonaka owned a landscaping business for many years, and has served the community in a variety of capacities, including as current vice president of the Lion’s Club. (PHOTO BY SARAH ANDERSON| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>
<p>Leningrad Olarionoff, former County councilman and nurseryman talks story with Fred Nonaka and Lion’s Club board member, Brayley Pastorino as they prepare to plant the ohia that Olarionoff grew. (PHOTO BY SARAH ANDERSON| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>
<p>Fred Nonaka holds the ohia in place as a young friend watches. (PHOTO BY SARAH ANDERSON| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p><p>Fred Nonaka holds the ohia in place as a young friend watches. (PHOTO BY SARAH ANDERSON| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>
John Kitchen, Waimea Outdoor Circle member, wields the shovel while Fred Nonaka prepares to lower the ohia. Pete Hendricks looks on. (PHOTO BY SARAH ANDERSON| SPECIAL TO NHN)

A small group of dedicated volunteers gathered last Friday morning at Waimea Community Park to replant two ohias. Nov. 1 was Arbor Day in Hawaii, and all around the country, thousands of trees were being planted. Destroyed by vandals, two koas had been removed from the park last year, and in place, both a yellow and a red ohia were planted lovingly in the ground where they had once stood.

“Ohia grows really well here,” said Cheryl Langton, president of Waimea Outdoor Circle. “Koa trees do better in a higher elevation, while ohia trees grow well in this elevation of 2,200-2,300 feet.”

The trees were provided by Leningrad Elarionoff, who said he became interested in ohias because of the Hawaiian legend.

“When I was in high school, I learned of the legend of how ohia and lehua came to be,” Elarionoff said. “In ancient times, Ohia was male of royalty status, and Lehua was female from a commoner family. They fell in love, and the kupuna said their union would never be possible.”

Similar to stories and legends from every culture, the ohia-lehua legend is a Hawaiian version of Romeo and Juliet. Elarionoff explained that when the lovers knew they couldn’t be together in life, they decided they could only be together in death. It was Pele who found them at the edge of a cliff and taking pity, changed Ohia into a tree and planted him securely in the lava field. Then she transformed Lehua into a red flower and placed her in the arms of her lover. It is said that when a lehua flower is plucked, it will rain, which represents the lovers’ tears.

Elarionoff said people think ohia tree blossoms come in only two colors, but in reality, there are 12 colors of lehua blossoms ranging from bright red to yellow, to different shades of orange in between. The tree being planted at the park is a “kupanala” ohia, which is a sunrise orange color.

Fred Nonaka, wearing his yellow Lions Club vest, took part in planting the trees. The Lions Club, a big supporter of the Waimea Outdoor Circle and its projects, will team with WOC, not only to beautify the park, but to bring added security for the safety of the children.

Funded by The Outdoor Circle, the project of planting new ohias in Waimea also extends to planting trees at the main intersection fronting Waimea Preservation Association’s historic Tax Office and Waimea Senior Center. Lost in a big wind storm, the replanting of ohia trees represents the love and care the citizens of Waimea have for the area.

“Koa trees were also vandalized near McDonald’s,” said Carol Hendricks, WOC member. Ohias will eventually be planted in that area. Both McDonald’s and Starbucks donated refreshments for the event, and everyone enjoyed the crisp beautiful morning as the trees were planted.

Chacha Kohler, also a longtime WOC member, explained Arbor Day to the group and said, “We all love trees and this beautiful park is here for all of us to enjoy.”