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Quake shakes Hawaiian events

A 6.7 earthquake shook Hawaii Sunday morning but the worst damage appears to have been 24 hours without power for many and roads temporarily blocked by fallen rocks. According to event professionals interviewed by Special Events Magazine, the effect on parties has been minor and had for the most part been resolved within a day or two.

"I was one of the lucky ones because we were without power for only 11 hours," reports Kika Matsumoto, head of Honolulu-based entertainment production company Kika Inc. "Fortunately, we were able to get to our entertainers and clients about Sunday night's events. Only one hotel cancelled entertainment; the rest did business as usual. Our group events on the neighbor islands, including the Big Island, also went off without a hitch. The hotels we deal with had backup generators and managed OK."

"We had relatively little damage to our operations," notes Scott Dodd, president of Paradise Gourmet Catering, headquartered in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii's Big Island. "One of our favorite off-site venues--the historic Hulihee Palace in Kailua-Kona--had lots of damage to the stucco but seems fine otherwise." He adds, "Our warehouse full of equipment suffered no damage other than some broken bottles of liquor--now, that's what I call alcohol abuse--and a stack of chiavari chairs fell over. Otherwise we are moving forward and have an event [Tuesday] for the Ironman for 400 event sponsors. The show is going on!"

Indeed, most Hawaiian event professionals interviewed by Special Events Magazine say it was not damage from the quake itself but the problems it triggered that gave them headaches.


For a Monday night event at a hotel on the Big Island, "We pre-set the ballroom lights on Saturday night for a Monday night rainforest party; our plan was to hang all ceiling treatments on Sunday," reports Marty Mullen, CMP, director of events for Honolulu-based DMC MC&A. But, "The earthquake caused the hotel's fire sprinklers to go off, flooding the ballroom and damaging all of the lighting equipment that was pre-set. The hotel has not deemed the ballroom space safe to enter so we have not been able to go in and make an assessment as yet. The party is now being moved to an outdoor function. We're losing a few elements because of the change of venue, but this is a great option under the circumstances. We had several individual cancellations for this group because they were unable to fly in [Sunday] night. The group is now a little over 200 pax [passengers]; it was 310 pax."

He adds, "Our DMC side of the business is pretty much back to normal [Monday] morning. A few of our Big Island activity vendors have cancelled activities until further notice so they can make an assessment of their tours to be sure they're safe before proceeding, i.e., hikes, ATV [all-terrain vehicle] rides, etc."

As with surprises of any stripe that disrupt event plans, the Hawaii quake forced event pros to adapt.

For its 500-guest conference on Monday, "Some menu items had to be substituted because vendors could not bake or deliver food items," notes Michael Rabe, CPCE, president of Honolulu-based Creations in Catering. "We were so fortunate because three years ago, we implemented a corporate policy to completely shut down our operations on Sundays to give our employees time off to be with their families and/or go to church. So, none of our events were greatly affected. Everything is back in order and going great."


He adds, "We don't have a wild and crazy story for you, but from our standpoint, no news is good news."

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