Youth volunteers help clear stone path at Kalakaua Park

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald From left, Griffin Steele, Eli Webb and Rebecca Ackerman shovel dirt and grass at Kalakaua Park in Hilo on Tuesday.

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Sterling Hall loosens grass and dirt at Kalakaua Park while volunteering with an ARCC group in Hilo on Tuesday. The group traveled from different parts of the mainland for a semester of volunteering in Hawaii.

A group of 11 young people have been volunteering this week in Hilo through a program meant for students taking a gap semester from school.

Adventures Cross-Country, or ARCC, is a program that gives adolescents different options of travel and study after graduating high school.

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One option includes traveling to Hawaii to volunteer for local organizations and to explore important environmental and social issues while being immersed in Hawaiian culture.

On Tuesday morning, the group worked to clear grass and dirt from Kalakaua Park to help restore the park to its former appearance.

K.T. Eger is part of a group forming the Friends of Kalakaua Park and thought the students in ARCC would be helpful in starting a project to historically restore the park.

Last year, the Historic Hawaii Foundation gave a grant to Friends of Kalakaua to restore the stones that were loose or removed back into the pattern they were originally placed in the 1930s, when the park was the center of town.

“On Tuesday, the students uncovered the stone pathway that goes from Kalakaua to Waianuenue behind the King David Kalakaua statue,” Eger said. “There is a lovely stone pathway there that has been subject to decades of erosion.”

The stones will be uncovered in the coming weeks, but the goal is to have the project completed by May Day in the hopes that the Hilo Lei Day festival will take place at the park this year.

“This is just the first step in this process, and they did a great job with it,” Eger said. “Our goal is to have everything done by the end of April, so if the May Day festival is able to happen again, then that the space is ready.”

The students have also been working on environmental projects at Liliuokalani Park and Gardens and talking with people in the community for their research projects.

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Community members Marcia Timboy and Leilehua Yuen joined the group on Tuesday to talk with the students about King David Kalakaua, the history of the park and its importance to Hilo.

Email Kelsey Walling at kwalling@hawaiitribune-herald.com

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