By RICHARD FUKUHARA
On July 2 at the Little Tokyo Koban, Yoshihito Yonezawa, founder of the Los Angeles Tanabata Festival, and Brian Kito, chairman of the Tanabata Festival, on behalf of the Los Angeles Tanabata Festival and the Japanese and Japanese American communities, presented five Sendai kazari to Lalit Acharya, international relations manager for the City of Riverside Mayor’s Office and SCI SoCal Chapter Board of Directors member, and May Davis, chair and founder of the city’s Asian Pacific Lunar New Year Festival.
The Tanabata Committee was encouraged by the City of Riverside and its citizens. From grade schools, high schools, colleges, families, businesses, clubs, fire and police departments, over 4,000 citizens from the greater Riverside area donated funds to the Sendai Relief Fund. Sendai is Riverside’s sister city.
This past May, Riverside citizens and city officials traveled with Mayor Ron Loveridge to Sendai. Loveridge presented Sendai Mayor Emiko Okuyama with a check for $500,000. An additional $100,000 has been raised since May.
Assisting with the presentation were Junko Yonezawa, co-founder of the Tanabata Festival; Chogi Higa, president of Kenjinkai Kyogikai; actress and Tanabata Committee member Tamlyn Tomita; Ernest Hida, chairman of the Los Angeles-Nagoya Sister City Affiliation (LANSCA); and Richard Fukuhara, chair of the Sister Cities International Southern California (SCI SoCal) Chapter’s Conference and Events Committee.
All the Los Angeles organizations agreed to help the City of Riverside develop its own Tanabata Festival as part of the Cities Helping Cities program of the SCI SoCal Chapter. The third Los Angeles Tanabata Festival will take place on Aug. 12-15 in Little Tokyo.