Ever wonder what the summer’s been like on Lāna‘i? The weather’s been a little warmer than usual, but otherwise, the Pine Lads finished their softball season as league champs, the Four Seasons Resort Lāna‘i at Mānele is nearly done, and the opening for Kō‘ele Lodge has been pushed back to next year. Folks on Lana'i would like it if you'd head over and see how things are going for yourself. HPR’s Noe Tanigawa checked in on preparations for Fifth Friday celebrations, which include a Pokemon Go! Tournament.
Lāna‘i’s Fifth Friday celebrations run from 5:30 to 8pm this Friday around Dole Park in the center of town.
I called Alberta DeJetley because she is the contact for more on Lanai’s Fifth Friday shindig. She grew up on Lāna‘i and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce there. In Maui Country, each of five very special towns are highlighted once a month. The Lanai Chamber sponsors Fifths Fridays to encourage local businesses, especially the home based mom and pop endeavors.
”Since I’m the newspaper lady too I can share some really, really good news!” In 1986, DeJetley was hired by Lāna‘i’s then-owner Rupert Murdoch to start a community newspaper. She still runs Lāna‘i Today, both in print and online.
“This year for the first time in three years we are starting our school year with a full slate of teachers. We’re so excited.”
DeJetley says Lāna‘i High and Elementary’s Principal Elton Kinoshita and Vice Principals Rhett Parham and Michele Holsomback, doubled down to get the full roster.
“We’re doing everything possible from the community side to see if we can retain our teachers and have them stay two years, stay three years, bring their families and make Lāna‘i their home. We want them to be a part of our community.”
It’s a community in transition. DeJetley says while the resort at Mānele was closed last year, all those employees were assigned to community service jobs.
“There must have been at least 60-70 employees assigned to the schools. They went out and cleaned yards for senior citizens, they spruced up the lanes, they did a lot of landscaping cleanups, just everywhere. They were paid their base salaries, of course if you were in tipping categories it hurt a little bit, but they calculated their base salaries and they paid them that.”
Asked whether there is an unemployment problem on Lāna‘i now, De Jetley responds, “Right now people are waiting to be placed at different places, right at the present time. But I think eventually it will all work out because there are still a lot of jobs available.”
She mentions dental assistant, for example. De Jetley says the renovated theater is now doubled, 90 seats each side, with first run films and fabulous sound. You can tour it anytime there isn’t a film showing. This Friday, Fifth Friday, Lāna‘i is having a town celebration. There’s music, all the shops and eateries participate, plus specials treats like those from David and Karen Hubin.
“They make the best cotton candy. It’s just delicious because you’re standing right there and they’re making it right in front of you and it’s kind of chilly at night and it’s just fun!!! What’s really exciting this time, we’re going to have a big Pokemon Go Tournament!” Matt Kawasaki is helping organize the tournament, which is expected to be quite a draw. As it is, DeJetley says, every evening you can see groups and families roaming Dole Park where there are at least six or seven Pokemon related locations.
De Jetley says here’s an easy way to do a Lāna‘i daytrip: Take the 9:15am ferry from Lahaina to Lāna‘i, at the landing, you can ask about the shuttle to Lāna‘i City and arrange a time. Wander to Hulopo‘e Beach Park and enjoy. When ready, grab the shuttle from the ferry port to town, enjoy Friday’s celebrations, then shuttle back to the special 9:45 late ferry to Lahaina. Alberta DeJetley says to give her a call if you have any questions! 808-649-0808.