Iolani Palace hopes fundraiser helps with APEC losses

Published: Nov. 17, 2011 at 12:04 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2011 at 1:27 AM HST
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Heather Diamond
Heather Diamond
Hawaiian sovereignty activists previously refused to leave the grounds, prompting arrests
Hawaiian sovereignty activists previously refused to leave the grounds, prompting arrests
Zita Cup Choy
Zita Cup Choy

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - APEC is over, and Iolani Palace is hoping to make up for the money it lost from last week's forced closure. The palace already announced a revenue shortfall of $42,000, but officials say they also lost out on an opportunity to bring Hawaii's unique history to the world.

Palace pomp and pageantry was back Wednesday with a birthday celebration for King Kalakaua and the annual Royal Guards review. For eight days, though, the grounds were quiet - during what palace officials had hoped would be one of their most high-profile weeks on record. They're now trying to recoup that 42,000 - after the state forced them to shut down during APEC week.

"We also lost an opportunity to show off the palace to a lot of visiting dignitaries," says curator, Heather Diamond. "We had a lot of calls, particularly for spouses of people that were involved in APEC that wanted to see the palace."

That included the wife of China's president, Hu Jintao and all that free publicity from the Chinese media that accompany her.

The state made the call to protect and close Iolani Palace after a group of Hawaiian sovereignty activists refused to leave the grounds and locked the gates to the property - just as APEC week began. Palace employees had been preparing for the dignitaries' visits for weeks.

Zita Cup Choy says, "I, as docent educator, had done some research to connect the APEC countries with Kalakaua's Kingdom of Hawaii, and it seemed like just about every country had some kind of connection."

The palace closure makes this weekend's annual fundraiser that much more important. On Saturday, the Friends of Iolani Palace hold their first formal ball in a decade - a nod to the grand Victorian fetes hosted by Hawaii's monarchs.

"I think they were looking for a way to do something that would be very elegant and out-of-the-ordinary and something that wouldn't happen anywhere else in Hawaii," explains Diamond.

The fundraiser helps pay for palace events, exhibits, and collections. All the really pricey tables for dinner at the palace are sold-out. However, $150 tickets are still available for the renaissance ball itself - which includes dancing, drinks, and pupu. And of course, dress to the nines because it's a black tie event!

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