Hawaii crossed more than 6000 miles and five time zones (six during DST), to come to Philadelphia and advise and set up a piece of their sacred home at the Convention Center for the annual Philadelphia Flower Show.
Waterfalls, exotic flowers, blooming trees, and Aloha permeated the Philadelphia Convention Center. For nonvisitors to Hawaii, the atmosphere exuded paradise. But to people like us, who have made more than 35 trips to these enchanged islands, something was missing. It's true, the flowers at the Philadelphia Flower Show were gorgeous, plentiful, arranged with taste, and proliferating. But there were no cooling and calming trade winds, no peaceful sounds of the Pacific Ocean, and no warm and genuine greetings of Aloha (stress and prolong the LO syllable) from tourists and locals alike.
The statue of Duke Kahanamoku, with his arms outstretched and his neck surrounded with orchid leis reminded us of the statue in Waikiki. At least one could see this piece of Hawaii in Philadelphia. Mostly, the show was too dark and Edgar almost stepped right into a baby carriage - the people were crowded together and there was not enough light. Fortunately, he stopped himself just in time.
Chairs for sitting were not plentiful, but we found one which was all that we needed.
The hula dancers from the Polynesian Cultural Center put on their beautiful, athletic, rhythmic, sensual, and seductive dance. They posed willingly for photos as did Danielle from Maui with her arms full of protea flowers and Kainoa Daines from the Oahu Visitors Bureau. As a special treat for people who are planning a trip to Hawaii, the Polynesian Cultural Center is offering a special coupon with 10% off all full day packages. The promo code is PAPHL03412.
I was especially struck by the representations of Madam Pele, made with dried flower petals. Madam Pele is my favorite of all the mythological people from all the cultures. In fact, she plays a major role in all four of my crime novels that are set in Hawaii (Hula Kapu, Surf Kapu, Coffee Kapu, and Pro Bowl Kapu).
The many vendors had crowds every time I looked at their wares - from the wine tasting, to the cheese shops, to the basket sellers, to the flower wares. There were lines and lines and more lines and people were happy to stand in the lines and turn over their money. The vendors I saw came from Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island - with spices, T-shirts, coffee, chocolate, and of course, the beautiful tropical flowers.
The tropical displays consisted of artistically arranged flowers around a stylized Surf Shop, waterfall, Hula statue, and a fruit and vegetable stand.
It turns out that this was a wonderful week to have a Hawaiian Flower Exposition in Philadelphia because the islands were deluged with rain. Major flood alerts had been issued for all the islands, and I heard from my Hawaiian friends, that the tourists said, "at least it's warmer here than at home."