In the spotlight
WAIMEA — Special honorees for this year’s Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival are longtime festival contributor Roberts Hawaii and Guinness World Record holder Betty Webster. The festival committee discusses suggestions in the fall and selects the honorees based on a group consensus.
Webster and Roberts Hawaii will be recognized at the festival’s opening ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday on the entertainment stage near the behind Parker Ranch Center.
The past few years have been exciting for “Aunty” Betty Webster. In 2015, the Waimea resident received national recognition for her induction into the Guinness World Records for having the world’s largest collection of sunglasses. The octogenarian owns more than 1,500 pairs in all different shapes and sizes. She began sporting zany glasses while working as a hostess at various Waimea restaurants.
“I started wearing glasses as a conversation piece, just to make people smile and to make them laugh,” she said. “When I got to 500, I thought, ‘I want to get into the Guinness Book.’ And when I got 500 I thought, ‘I’d better go for 1,000.’”
Webster is a grandmother and great-grandmother, hula dancer and volunteer at North Hawaii Hospice. She is also a breast cancer survivor since 2014.
“I am very proud to be an honoree participating in our upcoming Cherry Blossom Festival,” she said. “I have always enjoyed making people smile and laugh, and it is my hope by representing the community at this event I can continue to do that.”
At this year’s festival, wearing a pair of her signature “shades,” Webster will serve cherry pie at the Senior Center Hall on the Waimea Historic Corner beginning at 11:30 a.m.
For years, Roberts Hawaii has provided free shuttle transportation at the festival. It operates between the venues for those wishing to ride, rather than walk, to the many activities.
Festival organizer Roxcie Waltjen said that as the event has grown to an annual attendance of more than 50,000, the shuttle service provided by Roberts Hawaii is invaluable.
“The shuttle service helps keep people moving and makes for a very nice flow,” she said. “It is absolutely critical to the event’s success.”
Roberts Hawaii was started in 1941 as a one-man taxi company in Hanapepe, Kauai. With its current fleet of motorcoaches, mini-buses and vans, the company now provides transportation and tours on Hawaii Island, Kauai, Oahu and Maui. It is also a school bus contractor.
Roberts Hawaii employees perform their jobs with a sense of ownership and commitment to the community and to each other. The company takes pride in offering transportation and fun in a “safe and service-focused manner.”
“We’re very honored to receive this recognition by the Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival,” said Roberts Hawaii President and CEO Percy Higashi. “We’ve enjoyed being a part of this special annual event not only because it celebrates a centuries-old cultural tradition, but because it’s a fun and festive gathering made possible by the community, for the community.”