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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 4, 2010

TGIF's been an 'in' to island fun from start

By Wayne Harada
Special to The Advertiser

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Wayne Harada

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Indexing what to do and where to go has been the underlying thrust of The Great Index to Fun TGIF for short. That some folks often call it Thank God It's Friday is understandable: the section has become a Friday franchise for The Advertiser.

I was on the ground floor in the evolution of the project naming the original section and shaping its concept, from the original Friday broadsheet through the transition to tabloid format (and going to battle to keep the TGIF label).

Since my retirement in December 2008 as a full-timer, I've continued to submit occasional stories as well as an in-print/online blog, Show and Tell Hawaii.

With a change of command imminent, TGIF begins a new chapter next week when The Advertiser merges with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin to become the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

My treasured TGIF memories are tethered to the challenges of reportage, getting the story and/or putting a new spin on an annual event:

• The folks who talked. Mikhail Baryshnikov, about how his ballet bounces; Ricky Martin, a hottie at the height of "Livin' La Vida Loca," who also was a Menudo newbie in his first visit here; Celine Dion, with The Voice of the movie theme blockbusters; Jackie Chan, martial artist-turned-movie star who's quite a kick; even mime Marcel Marceau broke silence and chatted.

• The parade of visiting theatrical icons. "A Chorus Line," "Cats," "Les Miserables," "The Phantom of the Opera," "Miss Saigon," "Mamma Mia!," and, natch, "The Lion King." Oh, yeah, and Cirque du Soleil. And friendships resulted with Craig Schulman (Valjean in "Les Miz") and Cris Groenendaal (the Phantom).

• The growth and prestige of community theater. "Doubt," "The Drowsy Chaperone," "Les Miz," "West Side Story," "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," "Miss Saigon," "Cats," "Hair," "Forbidden Broadway," "Beauty and the Beast," "You Somebody."

• Community traditions. Lei Day with The Brothers Cazimero, Christmas with The Caz, Aloha Week (now Aloha Festivals) the frequent Cecilio and Kapono good-times reunions, the Punahou Carnival, the 50th State Fair, "Honolulu City Lights," "A Merry Christmas with Friends and (Jim) Nabors" and "Jingle Bell Run."

• Cultural experiences. The Kamehameha Day parade, the Okinawan Festival, the Greek Festival, the Portuguese Festa, the Merrie Monarch Festival, Taste of Honolulu.

• Music matters. Even before I wrote about CDs in Island Sounds, which was integrated in TGIF, it was music that first gave me an "in" with The Advertiser. As a youth, I did a Music column, which at one point was renamed On the Record, embracing local and national albums (Remember 33[0xb0] vinyl? Cassette tapes?).

And before the economy went south, I worked on a sister publication for two years, TGI Waikiki, an eight-page tab that targeted the visitor sector with a weekly cover story, calendar of stuff to do, and beach guide. You never saw this product, unless you worked in the heart of 96815.

So: TGIF has been my portal to good, fun times within the community.