NorCal Cherry Blossom Festival to Honor Seniors

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival will hold its annual Senior Appreciation Brunch on Sunday, April 22, from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco Japantown.

“This is one of the most important events of the Cherry Blossom Festival that pays homage to the well deserving seniors in their respective communities for all their hard work and dedication,” said Japantown community leader Allen Okamoto.

George Takei (back row, center) poses with honorees at a previous Senior Appreciation Brunch.

Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, this year’s brunch will be honoring a special group of seniors: Nisei veterans of World War II, who collectively received the Congressional Gold Medal last year.

Returning as emcee will be NBC Bay Area weekday morning traffic anchor Mike Inouye.

The 2012 honorees are veterans who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Infantry Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service. Last year, the brunch honored senior center coordinators along with other nominated seniors who were dedicated, selfless volunteers in the Nikkei community. In the past, only seniors volunteering at the centers were recognized.

In addition to being veterans, this year’s honorees are actively participating and serving as role models at senior centers throughout the Bay Area. The Senior Appreciation Brunch Executive Committee is honored to be spotlighting their service not only to the Japanese American community but also to the nation as a whole.

Held just prior to the festival’s Grand Parade, the brunch traditionally includes greetings from elected officials, the consul general of Japan, the newly crowned Cherry Blossom Queen, and the parade’s grand marshal.

The honorees are:

Yutaka Kobori, Oliver Nishimura, and Fred Shimasaki from Eden Senior Center in San Lorenzo;

Ken Nihei and Marshall Sumida from Kimochi Inc. in San Francisco;

Warren Eijima, Mas Ishikawa and Ronald Yoshida from Nikkei and Retirement (formerly Nisei and Retirement) in San Francisco;

Masaru Kawaguchi and Koji Ozawa from Pine United Methodist Church in San Francisco;

Shigeyuki Doi, Yoshiro Tokiwa and Marvin Tetsushi Uratsu from Sakura Kai in El Cerrito;

Moffet Ishikawa and Fred Kitajima from Yu-Ai Kai in San Jose.

The event is free, but reservations are required. For more information on the Senior Appreciation Brunch, contact Steve Hirabayashi at [email protected] For more information on the Cherry Blossom Festival, visit www.nccbf.org.

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