LAHAINA: Breaking news! This column has learned exclusively that a big time hedge fund operator has plans "to adopt" Lahaina. The billionaire will launch a $350,000 ad campaign to persuade public officials to make Lahaina an independent municipality, name Lahaina News pithy letter to the editor writer Arsene "Blackie" Gadarian mayor, turn Front Street and area parks into showplaces and create a Lahaina Chamber of Commerce to bring true focus to supporting merchants and the town. April Fools' Day comes a little late this year!
FRONT STREETING: There were good vibes at the late April annual meeting of Lahaina Restoration Foundation, its 49th, at the smokestack, with superb master of ceremonies and LRF President David Allaire telling how lucky we are to live in Lahaina and how proud we are of our town. "You are some of the luckiest people on the planet to be part of our community," he told the sellout crowd.
Jesse Neizmen, chief engineer of the LRF, responsible for maintaining its many historic buildings, has just painted (black) one of the new sugar cane locomotives on display across from the MauiGrown Coffee Company store. Further refurbishing of the sugar cane haulers is planned. As a kid, for fun, Neizmen remembers greasing the rails as the trains carried cane from the fields to see the locomotives slide uncontrollably backwards. Engineers usually greeted the pranksters with a blast of steam that flushed them out of hiding places in the bushes.
Mick Fleetwood has been making slow progress in transforming the former Lahaina Store Grille and Oyster Bar into a fabulous restaurant that will undoubtedly showcase top music. Can't wait!
Lahaina's Fourth of July fireworks may be in jeopardy unless a few quick angels can be found. Last year, fundraising began in February. The Maui Chamber of Commerce stepped up the last two years. NBC's "Today" show last year named the display one of the best in the nation because of its beautiful setting.
KAANAPALI BEAT: We get a new face - a new Starbucks at the Marriott, reportedly the only one in the nation on the ocean; the new Roy's, with spectacular views at the entrance to the beach resort above the golf shop; and across a new restaurant managed by community-minded former Outback Steakhouse impresario Art Ortiz.
Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. John Simpliciano, who were married in beautiful fashion in a tented, amazingly well-decorated, entertainment-filled soiree complete with ice sculpture and a reported 350 guests at Kaanapali Beach Hotel. "It was like the old days in 1978," popular Tiki Terrace bartender Tommy Rosenthal reported. "But a thousand people came to my wedding at the old Maui Surf."
MEDIA MEANDERINGS: Ever wonder why Hawaii Public Radio in its calendar segments refers to us as the "Valley Isle?" Many visitors can't tell the difference between the Valley and Garden Isle - a phrase also used. How about just "on Maui?" - more concise. Also, isn't calling us neighbor isles a bit demeaning? Maybe we should start calling Oahu "the contested Traffic Isle."
WORTHY CAUSE: Martin Lawrence Galleries has taken up the cause of a little local girl who needs $150,000 for an operation for a new kidney. Contributions can be made there during "Friday Night is Art Night."
COLUMNIST'S NOTEBOOK: Check out photos of recent Lahaina happenings on my blog at voicesofmaui.wordpress.com.