The new 37-cent Duke Kahanamoku stamp will be issued first on Aug. 24, but only in Waikiki.

Waikiki to unveil
Duke stamp

A beach ceremony will honor
the famous Hawaii waterman

By Craig Gima

The image of Hawaii's most famous waterman will be sent all over the world beginning Aug. 24, the 112th birthday of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku.

That's when the U.S. Postal Service will issue a 37-cent postage stamp with the image of Duke Kahanamoku and two surfers.

A first day of issuance ceremony will take place on the beach in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, near where Kahanamoku grew up and learned to love the water. The stamp will only be available in Waikiki on that day. It will be sold nationwide on Aug. 26.

The voyaging canoe Hokulea will carry the stamp into Waikiki followed by a parade of canoes.

Thousands of people are expected to be at Duke Kahanamoku Beach Park for a chance to get the stamp with a special first day of issuance cancellation and for an all-day celebration at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Jo-Anne Kahanamoku Sterling and son Steve Teruya near Iolani Palace before yesterday's King Kamehameha Floral Parade.

Kahanamoku was a four-time Olympic medalist in swimming and is considered the father of international surfing.

He will be the first native Hawaiian to be on a U.S. postage stamp since King Kamehameha I appeared on a 3-cent Hawaii stamp in 1937. Kahanamoku will be the first surfer honored.

The Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation and the Postal Service have been planning the event for several months and the details of the celebration are expected to be announced at a news conference later this week.

The Legislature passed a resolution asking the governor to declare the month of August as the "Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Ho'olaulea" to commemorate the lifetime accomplishments of Hawaii's goodwill ambassador to the world, with a multitude of recreational ocean, family, and cultural activities.

Yesterday's Kamehameha Day Parade also paid tribute to Kahanamoku, with family members named as grand marshals.

"What he has done internationally is so important to the state of Hawaii and the Hawaiian people," said Leighton Tseu, the chairman of the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission. "... He brought people together."

"What an honor to have this individual who depicts this kind of character," said Jo-Anne Kahanamoku Sterling, Duke's niece. "It's (the stamp issuance) for everyone. It's not just for Hawaiians. It's for the people of Hawaii."

Stamp collector Kay Hoke, the treasurer of the Hawaiian Philatelic Society, said there have been several first day of issuance ceremonies in Hawaii. Just a few months ago, there was a ceremony in the governor's office for the Greetings from America stamps and a couple of years ago there was a ceremony at Foster Botanical Gardens for a stamp featuring tropical flowers.

The largest ceremony so far in Hawaii occurred in 1983 for a stamp marking the 25th anniversary of statehood, Hoke said. About 25,000 to 30,000 people attended the celebration at Honolulu Hale, Hoke said.

Besides the special cancellation, Hoke said there will likely be illustrated envelopes called cachets for sale. An envelope with the stamp and special cancellation is called a cover.

He expects demand to be high for the first day of cancellation covers since Kahanamoku was known all over the world.

"If you happen to be a person really into surfing memorabilia then you'll have to have some of these items," he said.

But people shouldn't expect to make money from the covers.

"It's not an item that you buy because you're going to make a lot of bucks later," Hoke said. "You buy it because you want it."

He said thousands of covers will be sold and it's not likely to increase much in value.

The International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach, Calif., also is planning activities for August to celebrate the Duke Kahanamoku stamp, said Ann Beasley, the museum's world ambassador.

The local post office is issuing a pictorial, a special envelope designed by post office employees, and will hand stamp envelopes on Aug. 25, the day after Hawaii's celebration and the day before the stamp is officially released elsewhere in the country.

A celebration is planned including senior ukulele players from Newport Beach and surrounding areas and bands playing surfing and rock music on weekends at the Huntington Beach Pier, one of the spots where Kahanamoku helped introduce surfing to California.

"It's not so much the Duke stamp as much as Duke's spirit lives in Huntington Beach," Beasley said.

The winners of a children's art contest organized by U.S. women's surfing champion Kim Hamrock will be announced the weekend of Aug. 17.

"I'm thrilled that this is happening in my lifetime," Beasley said.

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