Capitol trolleyTrolley route map By Nancy Arcayna
tour a capital idea
Special to the Star-Bulletin
FOR many who pass through the Capitol District en route to and from work, it's merely home to some old buildings and self-absorbed bureaucrats. For others, it's an area rich in history that we generally take for granted.
Joe Tassill understands this well. As tour coordinator for the State Capitol and Information program, he said, "Most people don't visit their own Capitol. Even when locals have visitors, they whiz through the historical district and then head off to the beach or the pineapple fields."
You'll have the opportunity to climb aboard a trolley to discover just what you're missing on Saturday. "Capital Day, Down Capitol Way," part of National Historic Week, celebrates the historical and architectural treasures within the area.
The annual event was established in 1994 because not enough locals were aware of these places. Many of the participating sites are normally closed on the weekends, restricting access.
The tour allows families to "enjoy the day without paying admission fees," says Jim Bartels, of Washington Place. "It is truly a public service."
One of the area's hidden secrets is The Honolulu Police Department Museum, which will offer tours from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
"A lot of police museums concentrate on things ... the police cars, uniforms and visual equipment. But what I like to do is tell a story," says officer Eddie Croom, the museum's curator.
"We are one of the oldest police departments in the United States. Hawaii had an organized police force 10 years before New York."
According to Croom, the organization's roots coincide with the first law passed by Kamehameha I. "We are the only national department that can say that our first head of law enforcement was a king," Croom said.
The museum houses guns galore and paraphernalia, but eyes are drawn to the photographs lining the walls, dating from 1889 to today. Photos range from the rescue of lost children to getting injured in the line of fire. Also displayed is an officer's report of his encounter with a ghost on the Pali.
"We like them to be viewed as real people ... husbands, fathers and not just as policemen," Croom says.
For those who want a taste of Medieval times, head for the bell tower at St. Andrew's Cathedral.
"Its like you are entering a dungeon," says Willis Moore, the cathedral's tour docent. The cathedral tower's narrow staircase leading to its bell tower makes one think of the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
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"The eight English bells are actually rung by eight humans pulling on ropes. The bell ringers practice musical patterns, so it is hard work, not fun for them," says Moore.
The English bells, cast in 1812, weigh between 600 and 1,400 pounds each and were a gift to the cathedral in 1991. Prior to that, the cathedral had only one 600-pound bell.
Most people are unaware that there are human ringers since not much is done manually these days, says master bell-ringer Bob Veary.
The ringers pull the cords gently so the bells are off balance. "Once the bells are off balance a 12-year old boy can ring them," says Pam Veary, Bob's wife and a bell ringer.
The ringers don't feel the weight. "It is like putting a sumo wrestler on a swing," she says.
If one person isn't paying attention, in a matter of seconds, every one can go off key.
"We always look around shifty eyed waiting for the patterns to change. Its kinda like a video game. You need to keep a pattern in your head, watch other people's moves and wait your turn," she explains.
"It was Queen Emma's dream to have the cathedral built," Moore says. She was influenced by her grandfather, Englishman John Young. Today, the architecture that intrigued the queen continues to intrigue visitors, he added.
Grounds and bell tower tours will be conducted from 1 to 4 p.m. The bell ringing ceremony will take place at noon. The cathedral will also be showing slide show, "Historic Honolulu, 1794-1997," throughout the day.
Following are additional places to visit, with something to offer everyone, from art to history:
Hawaii State CapitolLearn about the executive and legislative branches of government. Guided tours from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. of the House and Senate chambers, the Governor and Lt. Governor's offices, and the Public Access Room. Informational video presentations will be shown in the chamber auditorium. Sonya Mendez & Chica Tropica will perform in the Senate Chambers from 2 to 2:30 p.m. Call Joe Tassill, 586-0146.
Honolulu Academy of ArtsFree admission to the permanent collections and exhibits. Note that an admission fee is required to enter "The Mystery of the Nile," at $15 for adults; $12, ages 13-17; $5, ages 6-12; children under 5 are free.Call 532-8700.
Historic Hawaii FoundationThe sixth annual keiki "Color a Historic Building" contest celebrates the foundation's 25 years of preserving Hawaii's heritage. Entry forms will be available during the opening ceremonies. Tours of Honolulu Hale will be conducted from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
'Iolani PalaceFifteen-minute guided tours of the state rooms on the first floor will be conducted from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A slack-key performance by George Ku'o takes place 2 p.m. at the Coronation Pavilion. Call Keolu Cabacungan, 522-0832.
Judiciary History CenterThe center examines Hawaii's legal history through theater presentations and exhibits including "Hawaii Under Martial Law." Keiki activities will also be available. Guided tours, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Call Matt Mattice, 539-4994.
Mission House MuseumsGuides dressed in 19th century clothing lead tours of the three remaining missionary buildings while discussing the interaction of Hawaiians, missionaries and other foreigners of that era, with repercussions felt today. Period games on the lawn also will be featured. Tours run 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Call Lynn Scaduto, 531-0481.
Washington PlaceThe former home of Queen Lili'uokalani, which is now the governor's mansion, will open for tours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tours are offered only on special occasions. Call Jim Bartels, 586-0157.
YWCA of OahuTours of the building will be given in celebration of the organization's 100th year anniversary. Call Cheryl Ka'uhane, 538-7061.
What: "Capital Day, Down Capitol Way"
Play hometown tourist
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Admission: Free, except where noted
Call: Joe Tassill, 586-0146 for more information, or to schedule tours on other days during regular business hours.
Opening ceremonies: 9 a.m. in the Honolulu Hale Courtyard with performances by Halau Hula 'O Kaho'ilina Aloha. The event ends at 4 p.m. at Aloha Tower, with Iwalani's School of Dance performing.
Also: Free trolley transportation will be provided to and from the sites, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. by E Noa Tours.
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