Inauguration event goes
off without a hitch

A whirlwind first day
Hawaii now "open for business"
Baptiste is sworn in as Kauai mayor

By Crystal Kua

"One minute to go!"

The maestro of marching bands and Hula Bowl halftimes was about to orchestrate his crowning achievement in the morning's inaugural event: four F-15 fighter jets flying over Iolani Palace.

Lenny Klompus -- the former director of the Hula Bowl college football game, now Gov. Linda Lingle's communications director and the inauguration committee chairman -- found himself the king of cues yesterday, working with a Hawaii Air National Guard colonel to ensure the flyby would go off without a hitch.

"Roger, they're less than a minute out, they can come over anytime," said Col. Stan Keolanui, speaking into a walkie-talkie to a colleague about the approaching jets.

Timing was everything. "If it goes off too early, then junk. If it's too late, everybody's gone, right?" said Lt. Col. Kent Tsutsumi.

After the jets whizzed across the cloudy skies of downtown Honolulu, above the palms that lined the entrance into the palace, Keolanui asked Klompus, "Is that good?"

The two men gave each other a quick hug, and a beaming Klompus then replied: "Thank you. Nice job."

Keolanui noted that the jets were about 15 seconds off. "When you consider where they're flying over, that's actually pretty darn good." A total of 300 National Guardsmen assisted with a helicopter flyover, a 19-gun artillery salute and other duties.

The jets came at the end of a parade of high school marching bands and a rainbow coalition of ethnic groups in pre-inauguration festivities at the palace.

Mary Rivera, of Kaimuki, stood with others in the Filipino Republican Coalition of Hawaii procession. She said she and others in the Filipino community worked hard on Lingle's campaign.

"This is really a celebration of the triumph of the common people because most of us represent grass roots," Rivera said.

Kahuku High School junior Farwyn Sakulsinghdusit, a Kahuku band dancer and drum major, stood in Polynesian costume along with other dancers, never thinking that she would be part of an inauguration.

"It's so exciting," she said.

But it wasn't all easygoing and glory-filled for Klompus, who flashed opened his coat lapel every now and then to speak into a wireless microphone to others in the field.

"Ernest, we're going to have to move it along, or else we're going to be in deep kim chee," Klompus said, referring to the pace of the parade.

"Rick, where are the porta-potties?" he queried after a gentleman asked the same.

After the parade, Lingle and soon-to-be-sworn-in Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona made their way from the palace to the state Capitol.

Wearing a stately head lei of green fronds, chanter Charles Kaupu, of Maui, a longtime friend of Lingle's who helped advise the former Maui mayor on Hawaiian protocol, led the way.

"I did basically a greeting chant, and it was used on behalf of the governor and lieutenant governor to greet people here," Kaupu said.

The group stopped to place hookupu, or gifts of leis, at the statue of Liliuokalani, the last woman to lead Hawaii.

Standing on his chair watching Lingle and Aiona take their place onstage was 7-year-old Christian Martin-Chu, of Kahului. "I came to see a parade and to see Auntie Lingle." Christian's grandmother worked for Lingle for eight years when she was mayor.

Events were timed so impeccably that Lingle ended up being sworn in 10 minutes earlier than the designated change of power at noon.

The reaction to the day's events was mixed.

"It's different. Personally, I like the bandstand, but I'm biased," former Gov. John Waihee said, smiling.

Lingle broke with tradition this year and held the inauguration at the state Capitol instead of the Iolani Palace bandstand, where past governors were sworn in.

"Awesome. It was just amazing," said Kunju Kothari, who along with her family is vacationing from Seattle. "The setting itself, her speech. I was totally taken aback by her speech."

Sixteen-year-old Dexter Vicente, part of the Youth Challenge, summed up the feelings of many just as he and other students were about to sprinkle flowers from the Capitol's fourth floor.

"I feel very proud and privileged to be here because it's the first time that Hawaii has a lady for a governor."

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