Friday Night Lights

January 24, 2012 | By Waikiki Magazine Team

Perhaps no Hawai‘i ruler loved a celebration more than King David Kalakaua. Dubbed the Merrie Monarch during his reign from 1874 to 1891, the beloved leader had a passion for music, dancing, parties, fine cuisine and spirited libations.

So it just made sense when creating its Aloha Friday festivities back in 1990, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa named the event The King’s Jubilee as a regal tribute to Hawai‘i’s convivial ruler.

It was actually a Barron, however, who helped spark this celebratory concept into reality. “During a Hilton Hawaiian Village board of directors meeting in May 1990, the hotel put on a beautiful hula performance at our Super Pool that ended in a fireworks show to the tune of America the Beautiful,” recalls Jerry Gibson, area vice president and managing director of Hilton Hawaii.

Among those swept up in the magic was Barron Hilton, who was co-chairman of Hilton Hotels at that time. “The song was one of Mr. Hilton’s favorites,” says Gibson. “And combined with the fireworks, it actually brought tears to his eyes. Mr. Hilton thought it would be wonderful for the hotel to have a show and fireworks every Friday evening.”

In March 2009, the resort replaced its original King’s Jubilee Friday fete with The Rockin’ Hawaiian Rainbow Revue. Produced by Tihati Productions, the colorful fanfare ignites the Super Pool setting with Polynesian music and dance reminiscent of the hapa-haole style (half-Hawaiian and half non-Hawaiian) popularized in the Islands during the 1930s and 1940s.

Yet, the star of the show has always remained the same—the flashy fireworks finale that paints the night sky above Waikiki Beach. Hawaii Explosives & Pyrotechnics has been behind the action since the beginning. Since that first shot in 1990, Hilton’s dazzling display has skyrocketed from 200 to 1,000-plus explosives per show. This is no small task.

A crew of eight begins the set-up on the beach every Friday afternoon at 4:30, with the big bang set for 7:45. Designed with a new look each week, the production sparkles with such exotic headliners as glittering tiger tails, peony shells with silver spinners, gold spiders and silver willows.

“It’s a very rewarding feeling to know that we’re helping Hilton entertain Hawai‘i visitors and locals with this tradition that has lasted so long. And it’s even more special since we do it as a family,” says Stephanie Pascual of Hawaii Explosives & Pyrotechnics.

Rockin’ Hawaiian Rainbow Revue Fridays!
Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa [D:3 Waikiki Map]