Follow the Stories | Honolulu, Hawaii (2007)
Roadshow Visits Hawaii (Finally)
Visitors to Honolulu's ANTIQUES ROADSHOW bearing their "aloha spirit."
After being safely delivered to Hawaii by Matson, the 53-foot trailer containing the ROADSHOW's equipment set off at dawn for the Hawai'i Convention Center.
This koa bowl was once used to mash poi, a Hawaiian staple made from the taro plant.
The instrument Hawaii exports to the world is made at the Kamaka ukulele factory.
How to get to Hawaii? That's the question that had nagged ANTIQUES ROADSHOW producers for a good stretch of the show's 11-year history. "We are a road show, and we want to cover the whole country in all its diversity," says Sam Farrell, the show's supervising producer. "That means including Hawaii."
The sticking point was always the cost. Flying ROADSHOW staff to Hawaii was expensive, as was transporting the show's equipment — much of which usually travels inexpensively by road in a 53-foot trailer, not quite an option when the destination is the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Enter Lucy Ahn, a Hawaii native who is director of corporate and community support at PBS Hawaii. She adeptly uncorked the island's well-known "aloha spirit" to help make possible the show's visit in the summer of 2006.
What it took to get ANTIQUES ROADSHOW to Honolulu
After connecting with ANTIQUES ROADSHOW producers in September of 2005, she and then station president, Mike McCartney, approached the Hawai'i Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) to convince officials that a visit by ANTIQUES ROADSHOW would present a rarely seen side of the island to an important audience. "We wanted to show them that ANTIQUES ROADSHOW could present our local heritage and culture," Lucy says. "It could present stories about what we value and our history."
By meeting's end HVCB executives were convinced, and they agreed to provide financial assistance. Lucy then contacted others who could help make the trip to Hawaii affordable. The new Hawai'i Convention Center made its facilities available for free. The Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki in Honolulu provided discount stays for ROADSHOW staff and appraisers. Hawaiian Airlines offered seats on its flights. And Matson Navigation Company agreed to ship the 53-foot trailer — which carries the show's set, props, appraiser's libraries, banners and much more — to Hawaii for free. "Everyone clearly understood what ANTIQUES ROADSHOW exposure could mean for Hawaii," Lucy says. "They all pitched in."
The visit didn't disappoint anyone. Matson delivered the trailer on time and it then received a police escort to the convention center. On the day of the ROADSHOW event, Amy Santamaria, the show's event supervisor, saw firsthand the "aloha spirit" of Hawaii residents who were waiting in line.
"While Honolulu is a big city, it was really like a small-town environment, because everyone seemed to run into somebody they already knew," Amy says. Many also came wearing the symbol of Hawaiian friendliness — the lei (the Hawaiian word for flower garlands). The leis added a sweet fragrance and color to the day.
Typical of the warmth, Amy says, was when a group waiting in a long line at the musical instruments table decided to strike up their instruments and play impromptu Hawaiian music on the convention floor. "People were laid back and friendly," says Amy, who had arrived on the islands a week early for an impromptu honeymoon.
Amy also noticed how varied Hawaii's people are. "The crowd was more diverse than anywhere we'd ever been," Amy says.
Just as diverse were the objects that showed up. "The biggest line was at the Asian table," Sam says. The appraisers also saw the kind of antiques and collectibles brought by transplants to the island from the mainland, but what thrilled them most were the indigenous Hawaiian objects. One of the objects featured was a Hawaiian calabash, or bowl, made of local koa wood. The bowl served as a giant mortar to its pestle, carved from lava. The rock and bowl were used by traditional Hawaiians to mash poi, a paste-like staple made from the root of the taro plant.
As Lucy hoped, ROADSHOW producers delved into an island culture rarely seen on episodes of Baywatch Hawaii or Magnum, P.I. The historic Queen Emma Summer Palace opened its doors to appraiser Nancy Druckman, who took the opportunity to showcase the spectacular Hawaiian quilts, an island tradition introduced by missionaries in the early 19th century. David Bonsey, an ANTIQUES ROADSHOW appraiser who is a Hawaii native, also traveled to the Kamaka ukulele factory, distinguished for the quality and beauty of its ukuleles, the instrument that Hawaiians have made world-famous. And in his off-hours, Bonsey went surfing, as did other ROADSHOW staff. "It was like shooting a TV show in paradise," says Jill Giles, an associate producer for the show.
The Honolulu visit was the last stop on the 2006 ROADSHOW summer tour, so it included a wrap party which was held at the Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel at Waikiki Beach. "We had tiki torches, all sorts of fruit drinks, and we listened to Hawaiian music," remembers Amy. "We watched the surfers and everyone felt, 'This is a really good wrap party.' ... I said, 'Don't expect this next year.'"
The one word that has lingered with Amy from the trip to Honolulu? "Mahalo," she says, "which means 'thank you.'"
See the Honolulu, Hawaii (2007) page for a list of all appraisals from this city.
Dennis Gaffney is a freelance writer in Albany, New York. He has been a contributor to Antiques Roadshow Online since 1998.