Hawaii needs ‘Running of Mongooses’
It's that time of year when a smallish city in Spain reminds us of how lame Hawaii sometimes is at promoting itself as an exciting international tourist destination.
Pamplona commandeers the world's attention for an entire week simply by releasing some angry, confused livestock onto its streets and letting a bunch of drunken tourists cavort with the beasts. As tourist promotions go, I don't quite get it, but I can't argue with its success.
I would have liked to have been at the meeting of the Pamplona Tourism Authority when the idea was first floated. ("Hey! Why don't we just let a bunch of enraged bulls loose in the city and invite foreigners to come and try not to get a bull horn shoved up their backsides!")
Since that breakthrough counterintuitive moment in city planning, the "running of the bulls" has put Pamplona on the map. (Which map is still a question since most American students still couldn't find Pamplona without the help of Carmen Sandiego or Interpol.)
This year, the running of the bulls got mucho presso mainly because the bulls had a good year, goring a few dozen of the less swift-of-foot visitors. As one bull told the Associated Press after the festival, "It was a great event. Last year was a building year for us, but this year our guys were ready. Our recent draft from the Madrid Minor Leagues, Manuel Muy Toro, looked particularly good when he head-butted that New Jersey certified public accountant into Portugal."
Every year at this time I remind the Hawaii Tourism and Convention Bureau that it needs to come up with a counterintuitive idea to attract thrill-seeking visitors and media attention from around the world. I have humbly proposed Hawaii instigate a "Running of the Mongooses" festival in which tourists would attempt to outrun several thousand wild mongooses let loose on Kalakaua Avenue.
Images of drunken German tourists and New Jersey certified public accountants scampering up coconut trees and diving through shop windows to escape marauding teeth-gnashing mongooses would be broadcast worldwide. Tourists would flock to Hawaii to run with the mongooses, decked out in aloha attire with jaunty palaka bandannas tied around their necks. (The tourists, not the mongooses.)
The Pamplona festival is held in honor of Saint Fermin, a Catholic bishop killed when a bull dragged him through the streets. (Why they think Fermin would want to be remembered for what clearly wasn't one of his better days, I don't know.) But Hawaii could stage the Running of the Mongooses during the Festival of Saint Cayetano, who actually is the patron saint of gamblers. Former Gov. Ben Cayetano, as festival marshal, could start the mongooses up the street with a whip, in the way he used to try to control state legislators. It's a good bet that Hawaii's Running of the Mongooses would make Pamplona's Running of the Bulls look as boring as a 4-H Club cattle auction.
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