Nāhiku (the seven) is the asterism (pattern of stars) consisting of seven bright stars found in the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. It is prominent in the northern sky in the summer, and is one of the first star patterns we learn to identify.
The Big and Little Dippers swing around the north star Polaris (the North Star) like riders on a Ferris wheel. They go full circle around Polaris once a day – or once every 23 hours and 56 minutes.
Wait … this isn’t about ‘that’ Big Dipper’ …
This is about the “two trains, 3,500 feet of track, two tunnels” of Big Dipper in the Aloha Park (aka Waikiki Park). (Honolulu Star Bulletin, September 14, 1922)
“Honolulu takes another step toward the metropolitan class with the opening tonight of the Aloha Amusement Park. … The park corporation has made good on its promise that Aloha Park would be outwardly attractive.” (Honolulu Star Bulletin, September 14, 1922)
“On the top of the 75-foot high incline the opening ceremony was held and at the close Mrs Cory boarded the front car of the train and with a dainty bet well directed swing brought the bottle of near wine, it must have been down, crashing it against the iron guard rail of the car and at the same time wishing bon voyage to the train and all who may ever ride the big dipper.”
“Mark Hanna, under whose personal direction and supervision the Big Dipper was built, was the recipient of many congratulations.”
“Director General Cory was the first one to congratulate him, which he did with generous abundance of praise, and vouched his appreciation many time for the excellent workmanship and detailed construction of the Dipper.” (Honolulu Advertiser, September 3, 1922)
“The dipper was designed by a California company which owns and operates three of the largest attractions of the kind in the world.”
“This Big Dipper is my special pet. It is an improvement over anything that has yet been built and there are only three as large on the mainland, at Venice, Idora Park, Oakland, and on the beach at San Francisco.”
“This one is better than any others. The first drop is 10-percent steeper, the cars run faster and the safety devices are more carefully worked out. There are no straightaways, thus making the ride faster, and more of a thriller.”
“The cars are specially designed and were made in San Francisco particularly for Aloha Park. They are two-passenger carriers and there are none cars to a train. Two wheels on each car instead of four, permits the trains to take sharper curves at greater angles.”
“At first the public seemed skeptical about the proposition. They seemed to fear that the park would not be the type that the city would want. … The buildings are put up to stay as anyone can see if they take the trouble to look. (Cory; Honolulu Star Bulletin, September 14, 1922)
Apparently, however, the Big Dipper and Aloha Park were not supported by the community. In less than ten-years, the Bank of Hawaii …
… “has owned the Waikiki park on Kalakaua Avenue, formerly Aloha Park, and the roller coaster, declared unsafe and unfit for further operation, has become something of a white elephant.”
“Officials of the bank say they want to realize as much as they can on the coaster, and wile thee has been a prospective buyer here and another there, the bank has refused to sell to anyone planning to operate the contrivance, and will only consider on a proposition from the standpoint of wood and metal.” (Honolulu Star Bulletin, December 1, 1930)
Aloha Park was adjacent to Fort DeRussy, an American army base and was opened by the Aloha Amusement Company, a group of local investors.
While Honolulu only had a permanent population of 90,000, it also had a transient population of 30,000 soldiers, sailors and tourists. And its mild climate was perfect for year around operation. The park’s entrance was designed after the Palace of Fine Arts arcade at the 1915 San Francisco Exposition.
The park’s rides included the Big Dipper roller coaster designed by Prior and Church of Venice, California, a Noah’s Ark fun house, a 70 foot high Traver Seaplane, a ten-car Dodgem, a carousel built by Arthur Looff, and a miniature railroad.
The dance hall had a floor 120 x 150 feet, with a 20 foot lanai, where refreshments were served, and contained boxes for private parties. Music was provided by the Hawaiian brass band, that played at the band pavilion where a big musical revue was staged nightly.
The Aloha Amusement Park, Ltd was “a locally financed. Locally-built and locally-managed concern.” Running into financial difficulties, the Aloha Park went into bankruptcy in 1924.
Then, “Court Lunalilo No 66000, Ancient Order of Foresters, on Thursday of this week closed a deal with the Bank of Hawaii whereby the lodge purchased for $15,000, a six-year lease on the Waikiki Park”.
“The dance pavilion at the park is being transformed into a meeting hall … The big dipper, the merry-go-round and the dance pavilion were included in the lease.”
“The Foresters intend to hold periodical carnivals at the park in addition to renting the grounds out for private use and to other organizations for dances, should, fairs and carnivals for the next six years.” (Honolulu Advertiser, April 3, 1926)
Eventually, as noted by the bank, the “ungainly ‘White Elephant’ is valuable only for metal, wood”. (Honolulu Star Bulletin, December 1, 1930)
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