Articles from the August 1997 Unification News

Saturday, July 26, 1997 at Japan America Theater (1,000 seat capacity) in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. The first festival, one of the largest National Parents' Day events, impressed so many Japanese and Japanese American people that the second one was supported by many community leaders. The event was chaired by former Long Beach Mayor Eunice N. Sato. The consul general of Japan came to deliver a congratulatory speech. The Nisei Week Queen came to present flowers to the final candidates for Nikkei Parents of the Year. The Nikkei Parents' Day Festival was held as a participating event for Nisei Week Japanese Festival, the largest Japanese American festival in America. The mayor of Los Angeles issued a congratulatory message for this Second festival. Various Japanese businesses and Japanese and American corporations donated about $25,000 to fund this big event.

The Nikkei Parents' Day Festival was created to celebrate National Parents' Day by holding a Japanese speech contest on the topic of "Parents" and by bestowing the Nikkei Parents of the Year award. In addition to family values-conscious entertainment, the art contest on the theme of Parents and Family was held this year. From about 400 entries, 120 were selected and exhibited at the Japan America Theater. Although most community VIPs had been invited to the Miss Nikkei Dinner Show, many of them chose to attend the Nikkei Parents' Day Festival, which began at 5pm.

As for the Parents of the Year Award, profiles of three couples in the 70s, 80s and 90s were introduced with slides and English narration. Then, three of their daughters presented testimonies about their precious loving parents, giving gratitude for the awards. Each presentation moved the parents to tears. The Parents of the Year Award, Consul General of Japan Award, and UTB Award were given respectively to the three couples.

During the reception following the three-hour program, the former president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California praised this event and made an appeal to extend Parents' Day to become a universal holiday around the world.

Funding is critical for this big event. It cost $20,000 last year. This year, seven Japanese Kodan sisters worked hard to raise funds by selling ads for the program book. Over 200 corporations and businesses bought ads or donated to support the event. The amount topped $25,000. Two of the seven sisters are 7-8 months pregnant. They phoned corporations from a list to contact the right person. In some cases, a sister called ten times and left messages to complete the ads or donation agreement. The responsible person finally took the message and sent a check for $100. They raised funds during the two months from mid-April through mid-June. Right after this fundraising, they started the Blessing campaign. Most of them Blessed 185 couples by the end of July. One pregnant sister Blessed 185 by July 15. Those sisters showed absolute faith.

Because of the Blessing campaign, a very limited number of members were involved in the preparations. So some of the members, like expectant sister Aya Kitamura, had to sacrifice many things to carry out their heavy duties. However, one non-member volunteered to help make this big event possible. A local Japanese TV company (UTB) was interested in this volunteer group, the Nikkei Parents' Day Festival Committee, and made a 15-minute TV program, which aired July 23, three days before the event. The largest Japanese American local newspaper, Rafu Shimpo, carried substantial articles in several issues.

The event was made possible with moral support from our regional director Rev. In Hoi Lee, our Japanese church leader Mr. Hiroshi Inose, and many others. Los Angeles is moving the West Coast and America ahead!

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