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Now Playing: Tsunami Warning in Bright Lights

Who knew a historic Hawaii landmark could also play the role of a tsunami watchdog, alerting dozens that they should head to higher grounds for safety.

The pre-Halloween tsunami scare prompted Hawaii Theatre to quickly change its marquee. Instead of announcing The Hunchback of Notre Dam, it read: “TSUNAMI WARNING IN EFFECT • EVACUATE COASTAL AREAS • EST. ARRIVAL TIME 10:30 PM.”

That’s definitely not the theatrical performance many Chinatown revelers had in mind, as they passed the theater while ducking into one bar after the other. Some questioned if it was part of the annual Hallowbaloo Music and Arts Fest, while others wondered if they were getting their money back for pre-sale tickets to the block party. But as the buzz of beers and tsunami sirens made its way around, the festivities slowly faded until the streets were completely emptied.

Once called “The Pride of the Pacific” in the 1920s, the theatre boasted the same top-notch standards as mainland theaters. Today, it’s part of the State and National Register of Historic Places, and after last night’s tsunami threat, it’s apparently also part of the state’s emergency alert system.

It’s interesting how effective a simple sign can be in these kinds of situations, when so many of us nowadays rely on the media and social network for constant updates. News reporters are supposed to be unbiased, but sometimes their emotions show right through the TV sets of hundreds watching at home; whether it be a subtle tremble in their voice or a slight furrow of the brow, it’s easy for them to unintentionally mislead their audience. A sign, on the other hand, can be very telling and in this instance, eliminates any added fear or suspicion by giving us only the facts.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Oct 28, 2012