Locals and visitors join Ala Wai Challenge fun
THE Waikiki Community Center is a refuge to many folks in Waikiki, and it needs kokua from the Waikiki visitor industry. Every year WCC conducts a wonderful fundraising event call the Ala Wai Challenge. This Hawaiian sports challenge attracts hundreds of workers in Waikiki but gets little attention from the visitor industry's management, thus almost no promotion in the hotels and restaurants. This results in few, if any, visitors attending this worthy event.
And that's a shame. A common question asked by visitors is, "Where do I find local folks at play?" WCC's 21st annual Challenge later this month provides that opportunity. Best of all, it is within walking distance from the hotels. The Annual Ala Wai Challenge is held in the wonderful Ala Wai Community Park, across the Ala Wai Canal from the hotels.
Last year the park was filled with 24 teams representing Waikiki's hotels, restaurants and community organizations. Each team had 12 athletes to compete in three Hawaiian athletic events. Jeff Apaka was the mamaka kaiao in charge and did an outstanding job. Teams had colorful tents crammed with ohana entertainment, ono kau kau and keiki running and playing. Everywhere you looked was a Kodak moment.
The few visitors in attendance were there because Jeff sent canoes over to the Waikiki side of the Ala Wai where a crowd had gathered to watch the finish of the quarter-mile canoe sprint. The finish line is at Olohana Street and Ala Wai Boulevard. The canoe sprint is a real crowd pleaser. You can watch the start and see the finish just a few minutes later.
STAR-BULLETIN / 2004
Paddlers race hard during a canoe competition at the Waikiki Community Center's 19th Annual Ala Wai Challenge. The event, a yearly fundraiser for the Waikiki Community Center, attracts residents and visitors alike.
The canoes picked up visitors and brought them over to the event. I spoke to some of the visitors, and they told me that this event is just the type of thing they came to Hawaii to see and experience.
I can envision a day when visitors will stand on the banks of the Ala Wai with local folks all rooting for their favorite hotel or restaurant's team to win. This can happen now if the visitor industry helps to get the word out at their hotels and restaurants that the 21st Annual Ala Wai Challenge will be held Jan. 29. A successful event will be a great benefit to the Waikiki Community Center.
Waikiki Beach Activities, also known as "Da Hilton Boyz," led by the Bruhn Brothers, won the canoe races at last year's challenge and WBA looks forward to defending its title this year. Please see www.waikikicommunitycenter.org/SpecialEvents.html for more information.
Bob Hampton is president of Waikiki Beach Activities.