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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 30, 2001

Island Voices
Rotating Duke's statue may be the solution

By Robert "Rabbett" Abbett
Kailua resident and owner of an Internet radio service (www.irh.com)

I've had several Internet Radio Hawai'i listeners ask me about Waikiki's Duke Kahanamoku statue over the past couple of weeks. One asked me why Duke faces away from the water and I did not have a good answer. Recently, after watching Edgy Lee's magnificent documentary on Waikiki, I got to thinking.

What if Duke's statue was taken down temporarily and remounted on a revolving platform? Something heavy duty like a base with a heavy industrial ball bearing.

With such a minor adaptation, Duke's statue could indeed face the ocean. It could also face Diamond Head and look 'Ewa. Perhaps in the redesign of the base we add a motor and a small microprocessor that could be programmed to allow Duke's view to follow the sun automatically.

Silly? Not really.

Think about it. (And remember that Duke, the man, was a people person.)

It's 2 o'clock in the afternoon. A flock of visitors from Japan is eagerly lining up and snapping pictures of themselves with Duke but the sun is high and behind, leaving everyone in the shadows and the Duke's statue dark and his noble face featureless in their pictures. Alas, these will end up being poor photos which will never lure another visitor and will surely disappoint those who took them.

But if Duke's statue could rotate, our same flock of visitors could take advantage of the sun and line up on either side of Duke as he scans the ocean. Now this picture is more likely to be a winner. Everyone is seen, Duke's majestic features are distinct and well-lit, and his image is inspiring. Our visitors are happy with their pictures. They show their friends at home and perhaps soon we see their friends flocking around the Duke snapping away happily.

We've also solved the continuing emotional and controversial issue of which way Duke's statue should face, we've honored the man by bestowing upon his image the freedom of vision and we've allowed Duke to resume being more interactive with his admirers.

We may also have created a fabulous low-cost marketing tool, one which simply by virtue of its uniqueness garners even more free media coverage around the world.

I respectfully propose we "Spin the Duke."