Jingle All the Way

Some friends and I participated in the annual “Jingle Bell Bash” in downtown Honolulu Saturday. It used to be called the Jingle Bell Run, but the truth is that the overwhelming majority of participants has never truly run the route, which makes a quick two-mile lap of the downtown area.

Known more for its crazy costumes, dressed-up doggies, and supposedly cute babies in strollers than for its world-class athletes, the Jingle Bell Bash is sponsored by the Honolulu Advertiser as a fundraiser for the Special Olympics.

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The festivities began at just after 5:00 in the afternoon with the doggie costume contest. More than twenty dogs in silly costumes were introduced and paraded before the judges, dressed as the Grinch, as reindeer pulling a sleigh, and as in the case of the winning entry, as locomotives. The locomotive dog actually pulled a smaller dog, who rode as passenger, but I didn’t get a picture of the smaller dog because quite honestly, I don’t consider tiny dogs to be real dogs.

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The doggie contest was followed by the baby-stroller contest, but of course I didn’t get any pictures of that, because who cares?

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Santa had most people fooled, but I know Santa when I see him!

The run began with a huge, group-singing of “Jingle Bells,” and then we were off into the night, perambulating down Alapai Street, Beretania Street, Bishop Street, King Street, and back up Alapai in a little more than an hour. We stopped for photos and even for slices of pizza at the Honolulu City Lights display before returning to the bus terminal that served as starting and finishing points.

There was entertainment and a drawing, with one lucky guy winning a Saturn Ion, but that contest looked semi-rigged. Seventeen names were drawn from among the race entriies before the race and each constestant was given a key on a ribbon. The final three entrants weren’t even drawn–the sponsor instead yelled out poorly-worded questions (“How many reindeer are there?” Uh, hundreds of thousands?) and as people near the stage yelled out answers, the sponsor chose the person who answered the loudest or who was the cutest or whatever his criteria were.

It turned out not to matter, because it was plain that the winner had already been determined before the final three were given their keys. The first clue was the emcee saying, “Okay, we’re going to do this in reverse order!” I took this to mean the person who was given the last key was going to try her key in the car-door first, but hers was not the first name called. Neither was it in reverse-alphabetical order. As contestant after contestant was called, it became obvious that the emcees knew who the winner was. This was verified when, with four contestants left (three of whom were the final three chosen, the three who were taken after the race and whose names weren’t drawn from the entries), for the first time during the entire activity, the emcee insisted that the guy holding the key take his time. “Three! Two! One!” shouted the emcee and when the lucky (?) guy turned the key, to nobody’s surprise, the lock sprung up.

Now, I’m not saying the fix was in; I’m merely saying that this thing just did not look like it was on the up-and-up. Saturn can give its car away any way it pleases, but the way the give-away was hyped, it was definitely used as a way to get people more interested in entering the run. Although I’m sure that not a single person in attendance entered because he or she expected to win a car, it seems in the Jingle Bell Bash’s best interest to keep things as above-board as possible, and this just didn’t look like it was above-board.

Still, it was a good evening and for a good cause. It was just sad that what is mostly quite a classy event turned into such a loser of a spectacle. What a sad note to end a great night on.

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