Christmas in July

Santa comes to Kaluapapa on a barge every summer. Just like Christmas, residents eagerly line up to await the year’s supply of necessities and treats. Last Saturday, trucks, refrigerators, concrete, gas and other goods were unloaded at the settlement’s wharf during this year’s barge delivery.

“It’s a celebration of goods,” said Sister Rose Annette Ahuna of the Bishop Home. “I’m just too excited!”

“We are so used to the quiet that people can’t wait to come and see the hustle and bustle,” said Kalaupapa Administrator Mark Miller. “Others come just to see who got what.”

The settlement’s capacity of 100 daily visitors was nearly reached as 97 guests and workers gathered for the event, which was “the first time Kalaupapa has hosted that many invitees at once in years,” Miller said.

 “I have never seen people move too fast but barge day comes and it’s like they flipped the switch and are running around like crazy!” said Karen Lucas, a sculptor and artist who has many installations in Kaluapapa and visits the peninsula from Oahu monthly for the last 15 years.

“For me it’s not just about the shopping,” said Sister Theresa Chow of the Bishop Home. “It’s about the combined efforts of leadership. It’s wonderful to see how much coordinating went into everything and to see the state, National Park Service and community working together.”

For many, though, the day was more somber than usual. Patient Aunty Lucy Kaona passed away last week, and the loss of other patients throughout the year was visible in the diminishing load of goods. “Less stuff makes it more boring as the years go on,” said Dept. of Health employee Harry Arce.

Gas was the largest commodity reduced in quantity this year with a shipment of 16,000 barrels, down from 30,000 in past years. Miller and the National Park Service both created initiatives to reduce gas usage by all residents and employees, capping consumption at seven gallons per person each week.

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