Did you know The Outdoor Circle played a significant role in the development of Ala Moana Beach Park?
In 1925, Governor Charles McCarthy asked for the Outdoor Circle’s help in developing plans for the Ala Moana Beach Park area, then used by the city as a dumping ground. Mrs.Walter F. Dillingham, Outdoor Circle President at the time, agreed, and was instrumental in creating the current park plan, with tree-filled spaces, open lawns and promenades for all to enjoy. In the 1930’s, the Outdoor Circle spearheaded a campaign to have grammar schools throughout Oahu sprout 4,000 coconuts for planting around the park’s lagoon. The Outdoor Circle’s nursery at Kapiolani Park provided 2,000 mock orange plants for the six tennis courts, and Outdoor Circle members donated and planted dozens of the magnificent trees that grace the park today.
In 1963, the Outdoor Circle vigorously opposed the city’s proposed elevated freeway along Honolulu’s waterfront, including Ala Moana Beach Park. In 1965, they were successful in preventing the development of a high rise hotel complex on Magic Island, and instead, were instrumental in seeing that it became an extension of the park. In 1971, the Outdoor Circle opposed plans to widen one of the park drainage canals, thus saving many historic and rare trees.
In 1974, after a five-year effort by the Outdoor Circle, groundbreaking began on the McCoy Pavilion. Longtime Outdoor Circle member, Mrs. Lester McCoy, had bequeathed money to be used to build it, stipulating that the Outdoor Circle was to review the plans for the complex, which included a beautiful tree-filled courtyard and reflecting pools, as shown here.
Between 2000 and 2004, The Outdoor Circle Planted over 160 trees on Magic Island, and in 2008, successfully intervened to save dozens of mature trees, slated for removal to accommodate a music festival to be held there.
On another interesting historical note, the large banyan at the tip of Magic Island has been designated as an Exceptional Tree due to its exceptional history. It was grown from a cutting taken from an enormous banyan that once stood at the corner of King and Keeaumoku in downtown Honolulu (right photo below). That tree had been planted from a cutting that came from the famous Waikiki banyan that stood at Ainahau, and was cherished by Princess Kaiulani, who often sat in its shade chatting with her friend, Robert Louis Stevenson (Ainahau Banyan shown in left photo below).
By 1963, the King-and-Keeaumoku cutting had become so massive that the city proposed cutting it down. An ensuing battle to save the tree lasted four years and saw protests of all kinds, including an eleventh-hour occupation of the banyan’s huge limbs by Outdoor Circle members. The battle was lost, but, the war was won because it led to passage of the State Exceptional TreeAct in 1975, legislation which provides legal protection for our most valuable trees.
And the cutting taken from that King-and-Keeaumoku tree now thrives as a third generation stately banyan at Ala Moana Beach Park on Magic Island, standing as link to the legacy of the past.
Photo credit: Dana Edmunds
Fact of the Month for November 2019
Did you know the Outdoor Circle was instrumental in the creation of the City Department of Parks and Recreation? Did you know that cruelty to trees in public parks and along City streets is illegal thanks to the Outdoor Circle?
In the early years of the Outdoor Circle, neighborhood groups of volunteers concentrated on planting shade trees in their parks and on their streets. They soon realized they could not do all of this planting by themselves, so, in 1922, lobbied the City to form the Shade Tree Commission to help. This group eventually became the City Parks Board in 1931, and later the Honolulu City and County Department of Parks and Recreation under the new city charter. Thanks to our efforts, shade trees line our city streets and grace our public parks.
In 1914, The Outdoor Circle also hired Honolulu’s first tree trimmer, Mr. Olivera, (for 25 cents an hour) to properly maintain the trees they had planted. It also became apparent that these trees needed protection, and in 1920, at the behest of The Outdoor Circle, a City ordinance was passed making “cruelty to trees illegal.” This ordinance is still in effect today, stating “ It shall be unlawful for any person to injure or destroy street trees in any manner or by any means.” Thanks to our early efforts efforts, vandalism of trees along our streets is illegal and punishable by fines of up to $500. Amusing anecdotes exist regarding our volunteers and their attempts to see that trees were properly maintained back in those days. In one incident, as reported in notes at the time, volunteers told of meeting resistance of men from the Harbor Commission in getting fronds removed from the coconut trees the Outdoor Circle had planted. “The man in charge refuses to take off all the leaves, saying the trees will grow better with them there… As he is armed with a gun, Mrs. Von Hamm cannot insist on carrying out her wishes.”
Incidentally, tree-trimmer Mr. Olivera went on to work at the Outdoor Circle’s plant nursery at Kapiolani Park for the next 28 years!
The nursery eventually was turned over to the City Parks Board in 1946, and remains there today as the Honolulu City Kapiolani Nursery. But that is a story for another day!
Kapiolani Park (photo by Miguel Minhalma)
Fact of the Month for October 2019
Have you ever driven by Punahou School in Honolulu and noticed the spectacular Night-Blooming Cereus, (Hylocereus undatuscereus) growing on the rock walls that surround the campus on Punahou Street and Wider Avenue?
Did you know that The Outdoor Circle had a significant part to play in their history?
It is believed the wall was built by Hawaiian chiefs and the Night-Blooming Cereus was planted in 1836 by Sybil Bingham, wife of one of the first missionaries to Hawaii, the Reverend Hiram Bingham.
The story is that a cutting was brought to Honolulu by Charles Brewer, the first mate on the Ivanhoe, who had picked it from Mexico en route to Hawaii. Only a single clipping survived the journey, which was given to Mrs. Bingham. Eventually the entire hedge was planted, almost half a mile in length in 1907, becoming one of the most impressive night-blooming cacti hedges in the country.
However, back in 1923, the hedge was scheduled for removal, due to road widening on Punahou Street, and the poor condition of the wall itself. The Outdoor Circle opposed the destruction of the hedge, and through their efforts, only a portion of the hedge was removed, and they were able to secure about 1500 cuttings, which were transplanted to Red Hill. You can still see these today as you drive along Moanalua Freeway.
Another part of the hedge was scheduled to be removed in 1942 by the US Army (who had a presence on the Punahou campus during the World War II), but again the Outdoor Circle stepped in and obtained a truckload of cuttings to plant in many parts of Honolulu. Today these cuttings can still be seen on the slopes of Punchbowl and Round Top and elsewhere around the city.
So think of the Outdoor Circle when you drive by these spectacular plantings, that could have been lost to history, if not, in part, for the diligent efforts of the Outdoor Circle!
Fact of the Month for September 2019
Did you ever wonder how the Hibiscus became the Hawaii State Flower?
In 1915 the newly formed, but very active, Outdoor Circle adopted a cream white hibiscus as its emblem. This particular one was produced by Valentine Holt, a noted Honolulu horticulturalist. That same year the Outdoor Circle initiated action to have the Hibiscus, in its many colors and varieties, adopted as the City of Honolulu’s official flower, and then the official flower of the Territory of the Hawaiian Islands, in 1923.
Near statehood, the first Hawaii State Legislature adopted many of the Territory of Hawaii’s symbols as part of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, including adopting the Hibiscus as the state flower. But it wasn’t until 1988 that the yellow Hibiscus (Hibiscus brackenridgei, Pua Aloalo) native to the Hawaiian Islands, was elected as the official State Flower of Hawaii.
The name of this plant- ma'o hau hele literally means the “traveling green hau”. It is probable that it got this name because after the plant gets to be about 3-5 years old it will become top heavy and either lean over or fall over and sprout new roots where the leaning branches touch the ground.
The Outdoor Circle is proud to have had a part in the establishment of the Hibiscus as the Hawai’i State Flower!
Fact of the Month for August 2019
Most people have heard of the iconic Hawaiian song “Lovely Hula Hands.” But did you know of The Outdoor Circle’s connection to its being composed?
Just before World War II, as a fundraiser, The Outdoor Circle, with the help of Don Blanding, Poet Laureate of Hawaii, produced a spectacular show entitled “A Night to Remember”. Especially for the show, R. Alex Anderson wrote the now iconic tunes “Lovely Hula Hands”, “White Ginger Blossoms” and “Say it with a Flower Lei”. Renowned local muralist Juliette May Frazier painted some of the sets. The evening truly was a night to remember and netted a remarkable $7000!
The Outdoor Circle is proud to have had a small part in bringing “Lovely Hula Hands” to the public. Shown here is the original sheet music and cover for “Lovely Hula Hands”, as published in 1940.
Incidentally, its composer, R. Alex Anderson, who was born in Honolulu in 1894, wrote over 200 Hawaiian classics, including “Mele Kalikimaka” and “The Cockeyed Mayor of Kaunakakai”. He was also a World War I pilot, who was captured by the Germans and involved in a daring prison escape which was made into a movie called “Dawn Patrol”, starring Douglas Fairbanks, released in 1930. It won an Academy Award for “Best Story”.
Fact of the Month for July 2019
Did you know that seventy years ago this month, LKOC participated in the firstKailua Fourth of July Parade in 1949?
In those days, the parade was on Oneawa Street and Kuulei Road, where a “crowd of 4000 thronged the streets”, according to newspaper reports. Our theme that year was “Let‘s Make Kailua a Garden City”, and the float (depicted here) encouraged the community to keep their yards free of trash, and plant trees and shrubs instead. LKOC sponsored a “Plant Exchange”, where homeowners could deposit/pickup plants from/for their own yards to beautify them.
LKOC continues its tradition of participating in the Annual Kailua Fourth of July Parade, with spectacular floats each year depicting our Beautification and Educational Outreach efforts in the community.
This year, 2019, on the 70th anniversary of the parade, our float was a representation of the Kalapawai Triangle, now a round-about, and the Banyan that LKOC planted there in 1954. We continue to maintain the landscaping at the site to this day, and the magnificent Banyan has become a landmark within Kailua Town. Shown next to the float is its designer Jason Hills and float driver Lori Lloyd.
Prior year parade floats have depicted a representation of Alala Point, at the entrance to Lanikai, where LKOC has been providing the landscaping maintenance through the Community Service Workline since 1999 (top left), our park improvement and beautification efforts (top right), and our “Learning to Grow” lettuce garden at the Women’s Community Correctional Center, where LKOC has been providing inmates with horticultural training since 1999 (bottom).
As a historical footnote, in 1955 “The float that drew the biggest laugh all along the parade route was the Outdoor Circle float that resembled a garbage truck with a ‘litter bug’ sitting on top the cabin throwing rubbish” (Honolulu Advertiser July 5, 1955). Anti-litter and responsible garbage disposal in Kailua was a huge campaign of LKOC’s at the time.
In the 1960’s, The Outdoor Circle started a statewide anti-litter campaign, resulting in the establishment of the first recycling plant on Oahu, on Sand Island in 1967, as well as the establishment of mascots for the program, Mr. Mynah and Anti Litter, created for us by noted local cartoonist Harry Lyons. Now, 50 years later, these two mascots still continue to promote awareness of environmental issues and the importance of trees through our educational outreach activities in the community. Both are depicted on the float in the photo above.
Fact of the Month for June 2019
In 1949, 70 years ago this month, the newly-formed Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle began planting trees in the Kailua Road median as shown in the photo below.
Tecoma trees were planted at the time, but in 1959, a major upgrade to the roadway occurred, and replacement trees, including Kamani, were planted. At that time, LKOC planted dozens of trees on Oneawa, Kainehe, Uluniu, Maluniu, Kihapai, and Hoolai Streets, with crews of LKOC volunteers out digging the holes, planting, and staking the trees. Many of these street trees are still there today, as exemplified by the beautiful elaeodendrons on Maluniu Street.
During this time frame, LKOC planted over 2000 trees on the streets of Kailua’s newly built subdivisions and on the grounds of the new public schools being built. Many of these mature trees still grace our subdivisions and schools. We are proud to have had a part in beautifying Kailua back then, and to this day!
Fact of the Month for May 2019
Did you know that in 1912, TheOutdoor Circle planted the 231 Royal Palms around the Palm Circle Parade Grounds at Fort Shafter?
Palm Circle is on the National Register of Historic Places. On December 7, 1941, Palm Circle housed the offices and quarters of the commanding general and his staff, U.S. Army Forces, Pacific Ocean Areas, which included all army forces in the Central Pacific and the South Pacific. The Palm Circle was strafed during the attack on Pearl Harbor, but the trees survived. During Hurricane Iwa, in 1983, 100 fronds were snapped off, but not one tree fell.
Royal Palms (Palmea Roystonea Regia) are named for Brevet Brigadier General Roy Stone, who fought at the Battle of Gettysburg. The palm genus was named in memory of the work he did in road building in Puerto Rico during the Spanish American War.
In the recent photo below, Tripler Hospital can be seen in the distance. When Palm Circle was originally built, Tripler Hospital was located as Quarters #1 along Palm Drive. While the configuration of the surrounding quarters has changed over the years, the stately palms remain to this day!