Filipino fans celebrate Hello Kitty’s 40th birthday

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Nov. 4, 2014

LOS ANGELES – Thousands, including Filipinos, dressed up and came out to celebrate the birthday of one of the world’s most famous third grade girls.

Hello Kitty marked its 40th year with a four day convention, drawing 25,000 people from throughout the country to LA’s Little Tokyo area.

“I’m a fan, die hard Hello Kitty fan,” said Mariam Reynosa, who is from Northern California. “It’s Halloween, first annual Hello Kitty convention. Had to be here. It’s historical.”

From food to toys to clothes to furniture, everything here is Hello Kitty – and for the more die-hard fans, tattoos.

Filipino Hello Kitty fan Kimiko came from San Francisco with her mom to get one permanent souvenir.

“Hello Kitty is really special to me,” said Kimiko De Pedro. “My mom actually gave me my first Hello Kitty. I was one-year-old or something, and it’s connected me with her. It’s connected me with so many of my friends. She’s a really good ice breaker. It’s all about friendship. I couldn’t help it.”

Hello Kitty fans are not just school girls. A large number of men and older people were among the super fans, for Kimiko’s mom, the silent piano playing character keeps people forever young.

“There are all ages here,” said Kimiko’s mom, Teresa. “You’d be so surprised there’s so many middle-aged and older people here, so they still are in love with Hello Kitty. She’s such an icon.”

The convention paid homage to Hello Kitty’s beginnings, including the first product – a coin purse that originally sold for a dollar in Japan.

Yuko Yamaguchi, who has been Hello Kitty’s head designer since 1980, talked about Hello Kitty’s early days.

With endless possibilities of Hello Kitty products and fan tributes, this birthday bash shows that the popular character is more than a global icon; but for the past 40 years she’s been a part of everyday life.

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