During the time the Tutuila was visiting Pearl Harbor, there occurred a major local holiday. I had not previously known of Kamehameha Day; which honors Kamehameha I, the former unifier (in 1810) and King of the Hawaiian Islands; a revered figure in Hawaiian culture, past and present.
All of Honolulu, it seemed, had shut down for Kamehameha Day, and huge crowds gathered along King Street and beyond for the annual parade. There were floats, from all parts of the island group, — all made of local flowers, sort of like a Polynesian Rose Bowl parade. Along with the floats were open cars with local celebrities riding high and waving, marchers from local societies, high school marching bands, and others (in other words, all of the elements of a major holiday parade anywhere). The parade elements mustered and marched, seemingly endlessly, from the starting point, past the Iolani Palace; former royal residence of Hawaii’s historical rulers, and off into the distance. It was directly in front of the palace that our guide Diane had recommended as the best place to view the festivities, and so here, at the edge of the roadway, we stood.
We soon discovered that behind us in the palace, on the Governor’s balcony — along with the governor, and other VIPs — was a national celebrity. Visiting (and actually living on the island for a brief time), was Jacqueline Kennedy, and her children, eight-year-old Caroline and five-year-old “John John”.
I will admit, it was a thrill to actually see them in person, viewing the events from their vantage, two stories up and perhaps 50 yards behind where we stood in the crush at curbside.
The parade, eventually, came to an end, and as my friends Robert and Jake, and I were starting to move on, a ripple of excitement passed through the crowd. The rumor was that Mrs. Kennedy and the children would be leaving the palace grounds in a limo; passing through a gate located on the cross street just ahead of us. We didn’t know of this was true, but we were going in that direction anyway, so we joined the gathering throng outside the gate.
By the time we actually got there we were well back from the gate, and tall as I am not, I couldn’t see over most of those in front of me. But I got an idea. Disregarding how far back I was, I positioned myself in the center of the drive, and waited. When the time came, the first persons out of the gate were, of course, swarms of security, pushing people off of the drive itself and out of the limo’s intended path. As the crowds parted, or were pushed back, I held my ground as others backed up. Finally, when directly confronted by an officer, I backed up until he was satisfied with my position – at the edge of the drive, front row.
As the limo slowly moved past I was close enough (although I did not) to touch the car as I bent and peered through the window at who, at the time, was perhaps the most famous woman and certainly the most sympathetic and revered person in the country.
In that moment, my previous thrill at actually seeing them was repeated and multiplied as I gaped and gawked like everyone else, secretly proud of the maneuver which had provided me with such an extraordinary view. My two friends, who had moved at the first instruction to do so, barely got a look at the car.