ADDITIONAL STATEMENTS; Congressional Record Vol. 158, No. 171
(Senate - December 31, 2012)

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[Pages S8586-S8587]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                         ADDITIONAL STATEMENTS

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         CELEBRATING THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE HAWAIIAN ROOM

 Mr. AKAKA. Mr. President, I rise today to recognize and 
celebrate the 75th anniversary of the opening of a historic and 
famously popular Manhattan attraction--the Hawaiian Room at the Hotel 
Lexington in New York City. Throughout its 30 years of quality cultural 
performances, its authentic and captivating shows were widely praised 
for giving audiences not only an exotic, entertaining experience, but 
also a raved off-Broadway production, not to be missed.
  In the 1930s, the newly built Hotel Lexington at 48th and Lexington 
in New York City was an impressive hotel and with prestige and 
grandeur. At the cost of $5 million to build in 1929, the iconic hotel 
became an instant favorite for global leaders, celebrities, business 
executives, and some of America's most famous sports icons including 
Joe DiMaggio, who famously lived in a penthouse suite during his whole 
career playing for the Yankees.
  The manager was Charles Rochester, and in the late 1930s, he decided 
to open a Hawaiian-themed room in a large unused area of the hotel to 
try and attract new uppercrust business to his establishment to help 
with ``the bottom line.'' At the time, Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures 
were growing in popularity and interest across the country. However, 
the creation of the Hawaiian Room was still a bold move not only 
because of the Great Depression, but also an increasingly complicated 
global scene as world conflicts were escalating in both Asia and 
Europe. Nevertheless, on June 23, 1937, the Hawaiian Room opened its 
doors for the first time.
  The Hawaiian Room found success for an unprecedented 30 years 
straight in its presentation of Hawaiian culture and aloha, with the 
unique music and indigenous hula as its foundation. The room became a 
gathering place for many with Hawaii ties to share the knowledge and 
influence of the Hawaiian culture throughout the East Coast and the 
world. The venue became ``the place to be'' for celebrities in New York 
City, and it was the people who worked in the Hawaiian Room who made it 
such a success. Because of their talents, island ways, and authentic 
aloha many were able to enjoy a piece of Hawaii, even if they were on 
another ``island'' 5,000 miles away.
  Recently, I was fortunate to meet with some of the gracious ladies 
who performed at the Hawaiian Room so many years ago. Their stories and 
spirit of aloha embody the qualities that made the Hawaiian Room so 
great for so many years.
  I would like to commend TeMoana Makolo, Hula Preservation Society, 
and the dozens of Hawaiian Room members who worked in the room during 
its 1937-1966 run for their partnership and efforts in creating the 
Hawaii Room Archive to perpetuate this great piece of Hawaii's history. 
The oldest living former Hawaiian Room member is Tutasi Wilson at 98 
years old, who was a featured dancer at the Hawaiian Room in the 1940s 
and 1950s.
  Living members include Leonani Akau, Pua Amoy, Leilehua Becker, 
Iwalani Carino, Martha Carrell, Loma Duke, Wailani Gomes, Mamo Gomez, 
Mealii Horio, Mona Joy, Leialoha Kaleikini, Leialoha Kane, Manu 
Kanemura, Ed Kenney, Nona Kramer, Nani Krisel, TeMoana Makolo, Tautaise 
Manicas, Torea Ortiz, Olan Peltier, Vicky Racimo, Io Ramirez, Alii Noa 
Silva, Kaui Virgeniza, Tutasi

[[Page S8587]]

Wilson, and Janet Yokooji. Each has personally contributed to 
development of the first Hawaiian Room Archive by contributing their 
stories and personal photos to this new educational resource.
  Many other esteemed Hawaiian Room members have passed on, including 
Alfred Apaka, Aggie Auld, Keola Beamer, Mapuana Bishaw, Eddie Bush, 
Johnny Coco, Leilani DaSilva, Ehulani Enoka, Leila Guerrero, Ululani 
Holt, Meymo Holt, Keokeokalae Hughes, Clara Inter ``Hilo Hattie,'' Andy 
Iona, Alvin Isaacs, Momi Kai, George Kainapau, Sonny Kalolo, David 
Kaonohi, Nani Kaonohi, Ray Kinney, Kui Lee, Sam & Betty Makia, Lani & 
Alfred McIntire, Pualani Mossman, Tootsie Notley, Lehua Paulson, Telana 
Peltier, Luana Poepoe, Dennie Regor, and Jennie Napua Woodd. All were 
legendary talents in their own right, and also contributed to making 
the Hawaiian Room the success it was.
  Although the Hawaiian Room was in New York, it played an ever 
important role in the spread of Hawaiian culture across the continental 
United States, as well as the development of Hawaii's major industry--
tourism. The nightly exposure of business executives, celebrities, and 
New York's working men and women to the Hawaiian songs, sceneries, and 
hula at Lexington Hotel was sure to have put dreams of a Hawaii 
vacation in the minds of more than a few over the years.

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