Cayetano, leader of Hawaii's 29 convention delegates and four alternates, yesterday toured Chicago's newly refurbished Navy Pier, paying close attention to the Chicago Children's Museum, an anchor attraction in the 50-acre pier complex that includes restaurants, shops, theaters and cruise boats.
The visit was Cayetano's final stop in a six-city trip to mainland aquariums and children's museums, part of his effort to develop the Kakaako waterfront in Honolulu. Cayetano's travel expenses were paid for by Kajima International, a developer of aquariums in Japan and the United States.
In visiting the pier and children's museum, which had been scheduled before his departure from Honolulu last week, Cayetano was forced to miss the first lady's address to the Democratic Governors' Association, one of the many convention-related events here. Word that Hillary Rodham Clinton was giving a speech was announced only a day in advance.
"I'm probably the only governor not there," Cayetano said during a luncheon meeting with representatives from the pier development and the children's museum.
Cayetano justified his absence from the governors' forum and the first lady's speech by saying the convention was anticlimactic. "We know who's going to be nominated," he said.
Cayetano predicted that while President Clinton will have a tight race, he will be able to beat Republican nominee Bob Dole.
Although there apparently wasn't any coordination, Hawaii still had a presence at Hillary Clinton's speech as former Gov. John Waihee attended with his wife, Lynne.
Cayetano said his four-day fact-finding trip was "worthwhile." He visited the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif., under construction, the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, the Minnesota Children's Museum in Minneapolis and the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.
Cayetano came away impressed with New Orleans' aquarium because its tanks weren't cluttered. Oftentimes, aquarium curators put too much into a tank while attempting to replicate an ocean scene as completely as possible.
"In New Orleans, they kept that to a minimum. It was wide open and you could see the fish. Most people come to see the fish. They're not interested in the history of sand," Cayetano said.
Cayetano said he learned that you can't expect an aquarium to be a moneymaker and that it should be seen as primarily having an educational purpose.
The world-class aquarium Cayetano envisions for Kakaako would be part of a complex with the new Children's Discovery Center, now under construction, a 15-minute walk away. The facilities would help stimulate private developments nearby, Cayetano believes.
Cayetano said he wants the Kakaako aquarium to have a signature design that can be easily recognizable from the air. "Then people will know it is the Hawaii aquarium," he said.
Cayetano, who was wearing a suit, was also impressed by the Chicago Children's Museum, where he had a bit of fun going down a slide. He and Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, who also toured the museum, praised hands-on exhibits that allowed youths to learn how to use video cameras and also encouraged invention making.