Tourists will run for new Waikiki event
The Running of the Bulls last week in Pamplona, Spain, reminded me it was time for my annual column urging Hawaii tourism officials to start a yearly event here that will delight visitors and garner worldwide attention: the Running of the Mongooses.
Why am I the lone voice proposing what is clearly a no-brainer if we want to maintain our position as the top tourist destination in the world?
Imagine the international media attention Hawaii would get if we unleashed hundreds of mongooses and let them chase tourists and adventure-seeking local residents through Waikiki. While mongooses, which have no horns to speak of, can't do as much damage to people as rampaging bulls can, they are wily and fast and can follow a fleeing dentist from New Jersey up a coconut tree if need be.
Can't you just imagine a horde of tourists tying red bandannas around their necks, stretching their legs like track stars at the top of Kalakaua Avenue while a couple of truckloads of mongooses can be heard inside, clawing and gnashing their teeth? Then -- BANG! -- the gun goes off, the doors swing open and the 2-foot-long angry rodents pour out of the trucks. The tourists -- suddenly terrified at the sight of the mass of charging enraged little beasts -- knock each other down and climb over each others' backs to escape the sharp teeth and claws. What fun!
After the first Running of the Mongooses, more tourists will flock to Hawaii for the annual event, which will make what happens in Pamplona look like a cakewalk.
What makes the Running of the Bulls so popular is that most people are rooting for the bulls. It's the only time when bulls have a level playing field with humans, fighting mano-a-bullo, with nobody hiding a sword behind a red cape to suddenly stick them with.
People will love the mongooses even more since -- once you get past the idea that mongooses are basically long, skinny rats -- they are kind of cute. People will crowd the hotel lanais, cheering the stampeding mongooses on as they chase fat, sunburned public accountants into the ocean. And as in Pamplona, the Running of the Mongooses will take place every day for a week.
That's a week of free publicity for the state.
The beauty of this idea is that as sporting events go, it will be relatively cheap to stage. You hire some people to start trapping mongooses a few weeks before the run, and that's it. You don't even have to take care of the varmints the rest of the year like you have to with bulls. After the mongooses have run all the tourists to ground, they will simply slink away and return to their usual jobs of tipping over garbage cans and terrifying feral chickens.
In return for coming up with this idea, I would expect some compensation. Nothing much -- say a small percentage of the toy stuffed mongoose concession and sales from T-shirts featuring snarling furry animals that say, "I Ran With the Mongooses in Waikiki!"
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