Torch bearer does his job, distracts Clinton, ends up in viral video

Published: Nov. 15, 2011 at 9:18 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2011 at 2:35 PM HST
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In foreground: Donald Tsang & Hilary Clinton Source: YouTube
In foreground: Donald Tsang & Hilary Clinton Source: YouTube
Source: YouTube
Source: YouTube
Chester Centino
Chester Centino

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A video taken this past weekend during APEC has gone viral. It shows what happened while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was posing for pictures with Hong Kong's chief executive, Donald Tsang.

With flash bulbs going off, a performer at the Hilton Hawaiian Village interrupted the photo op when he ran behind the two, carrying a torch to light the tiki torches on the property.

Clinton quickly noticed the torch runner, and burst out laughing.

"That was great!" Clinton blurted out. "I hope you all captured that." Clinton then joked, "People will wonder what the chief executive is doing."

The man running with the torch is Chester Centino. The 24 year-old is a member of Tihati Productions. Six nights a week for the past seven years, he lights at least half of the 90 or so tiki torches around the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where Clinton was staying during APEC.

"If I was in her shoes, a lot of things would be running through my mind," Centino said. "I mean, uh, 'Security clearance?' Or, like, 'Wow, I've never seen anybody up close like that,'" he added with a laugh.

Centino wore a blue malo, or traditional Hawaiian loincloth. However, much of the worldwide media accounts about the video refer to him as a "streaker."

In its article, the Huffington Post said, "If you're trying to sneak behind a group of dignitaries so no one sees you, best not to wear a loincloth and carry a stick of fire."

"I made sure that I was clear with security, let them know that I have a lit flame, and this is all that I was wearing with my conch shell, and they said they were okay with it," Centino said. "I just did my route regularly."

He also said he had no idea Clinton was there as he ran past. "I did not know who was standing here, I just knew that this is where I have to run," he said.

After running around lighting the torches, Centino dances in the Waikiki Starlight Luau at the Hilton. His fellow performers saw the video before he did.

"I walked into our dressing room tonight because we have our show this evening, and all of them were just giving me that wide smile, and I'm like, 'What? What are you guys up to?' And they showed me the video. Oh my God," he said.

Centino said because of the tight security, he tried to keep the torch-lighting as normal as possible.

"I tried not to be a distraction," he said. When Hawaii News Now told him that he managed to distract the secretary of state, he laughed and said, "Yes, I guess so. I guess I did."

As for the video itself, Centino said he liked that Clinton enjoyed herself. "I think that totally makes the video. Whoever captured the video, I think my run was only 20 percent of the highlight of the video. It was her laugh and her reaction."

Clinton is now on a trip to Thailand, the Philippines and then Indonesia, where she will meet up with President Obama.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.