Don Ho tribute is on council agenda
Identity crisis is feared in naming the Waikiki Shell for entertainer Ho
AN ICON named for an icon?
A City Council committee is scheduled to hear a measure on Thursday that would rename the Waikiki Shell after the late entertainer Don Ho, who is virtually synonymous with Hawaii.
If approved, the resolution, introduced by Councilman Todd Apo, would change the name of the concert venue to "The Don Ho Waikiki Shell."
But some argue that the Shell is an icon itself and that there should be a lot more public discussion before a city site is settled upon.
"We would like to see more time before the name of something as venerable as the Waikiki Shell is changed and before something is named for Don Ho," said Alethea Rebman, president of the Kapiolani Park Preservation Society. The society is the community watchdog of the trust covering Kapiolani Park, which includes the Shell site.
Apo also introduced a second resolution that would rename after Ho the Beach Walk Triangle Park, at the corner of Kalakaua Avenue and Beach Walk, on the opposite end of Waikiki.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann's administration originally asked the Council to rename the park for Ho, who died April 14 at the age of 76, but the Council decided earlier this month to hold off making a decision until other options were aired.
While the Triangle Park resolution is currently not scheduled to be heard, Apo said he hopes both ideas -- as well as others not yet mentioned -- would be discussed.
"I think if we have that conversation, then we'll be in a better position to make that decision," he said.
Michael Pili Pang, executive director of the Mayor's Office on Culture and Arts, also said he would like both ideas to be discussed at the meeting. "I think any kind of discussion is good so we can get community input and we know what constituents and the community would like."
The Council's Public Health and Safety Committee meets at 2:30 p.m. in the Council committee room, nearly two weeks after Ho was laid to rest with a show-biz-style send-off in Waikiki, where he performed for more than 50 years. The Hannemann administration originally sought to rename the park in time for the memorial service.
"The reasons for Shell is that it's a large entertainment venue, it's unique to Hawaii," Apo said. "It's almost iconic in its design, obviously, and with Don Ho's obvious impact on the entertainment world ... it seems to be a good, grand dedication-type place.
"The arguments I've heard from the park is that Don Ho never really performed at the Shell. He performed at the other end (where the park is located) -- the west end -- of Waikiki, and that was really more his Waikiki, and that (park) seemed a more fitting memorial for Don Ho."
Apo said that either site could erect a statue or some other memorial.
However, Sid Quintal, director of the Department of Enterprise Services, which oversees the operation of the Shell, said it already has a bust of legendary Hawaiian musician Gabby Pahinui.
Rebman said there are no legal barriers to renaming the Shell from the trust, which prohibits commercialization of the park, but she does not believe the decision should be rushed.
"It seems there would be a lot of places that would want to be put in for consideration to be named after Don Ho," Rebman said. "And, of course, a name change is permanent."