Tuesday, May 18, 1999

Darth Maul
New Star Wars villain Darth Maul.

Star Wars signals
change in Kahaluu

Some longtime residents
fear a new theater will alter
its 'country' character

Star Wars opens at midnight

By Lori Tighe


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far ...

... from Honolulu, Kahaluu was a sleepy country town.

But today that changes with the arrival of a 10-screen theater with stadium seating and Dolby surround sound, and the grand opening tomorrow of "Star Wars Episode: 1 The Phantom Menace."

Nearly 600 children from Ahuimanu Elementary School were to storm the new theater, Ko'olau Stadium 10, today on a special morning field trip to help dedicate it.

"It's so exciting," said Ahuimanu's Vice Principal Sharon Inamine. "To have a theater in the neighborhood is wonderful."

The theater's grand opening proceeds go to the school library for new books and technology.

But long-timers hope the theater doesn't mar Kahaluu's country charm or pave the way for more development and cars.

"We live among farmers and taro leaves. Now coming home at night you see so many cars, so many lights. It's bumper to bumper. You can feel the change coming," said Ben Young, 38, who grew up in Kahaluu.

"It's sad. A lot of the old style is going."

McDonald's opened at the same Temple Valley Shopping Center in Ahuimanu six months ago, with its red roof.

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Ranier Kraanpilor, 9, plays a video game inside the Ko'olau
Stadium theater lobby while waiting for his dad. He got to see
a trial run on Sunday. His assessment? It was "real good."

Some people in the community saw it as a symbolic warning of further development and asked McDonald's to paint it a more natural green.

"Green is closer to the colors we're used to out here," said John Reppun, a Kahaluu Neighborhood Board member who has been involved with Kahaluu's planning for more than 25 years.

"Kahaluu is where the country begins," Reppun said. "We drew the line a long time ago to keep the country country."

Although he fears traffic snarls caused by moviegoers, Reppun doesn't worry that the new theater will change the country landscape.

The theater moved into a shopping center that has struggled to stay alive.

"Temple Valley represents urbanization of a rural community," Rappun said. "The community supports keeping the commercialization up there (at Temple Valley)."

Since construction of the new theater began, several businesses have opened in Temple Valley -- a Loco Moco Drive Inn, a bistro and a fishing store-- anticipating the theater's economic draw, Reppun said.

"This is better, way better, for the community," said Fredlyn Bastatas, standing in front of the Ko'olau Stadium 10 with her Star Wars tickets in hand.

"It means more money" to the area, said the mother of seven, a resident of Kahaluu for nearly 22 years.

"Plus you don't have to drive so far to go to the movies. We have it right in our back yard. It's easier. Let's hope it generates more business."

Previously, Bastatas drove about 45 minutes to either the Kailua or Pearlridge movie theaters to see a film. The family spent all its entertainment money on shopping and dining in those towns as well.

It's good for the kids ,too, she said.

"People are worried about their kids being way over there. Now parents and kids can be together," she said. "It's nice to mingle with people, go to the movies and everybody laughs at the same time."

But the theaters in Kailua and Pearlridge "will miss me," Bastatas said, laughing.

Kahi Kekauoha and Mike Winget, both 19, picked up their Star Wars tickets yesterday and checked out their new date place.

"I'm impressed," Winget said, looking around at the polished lobby, new carpet and glistening snack counters.

"It looks really nice," Kekauoha agreed, smiling.

"We go to the movies all the time," Winget said. "This will be our place to come."

They plan to arrive two hours early for the Star Wars evening show tomorrow.

"We're bringing a picnic and lots of friends," said Kekauoha, "It should be fun."

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin