An iconic symbol of the islands and one of the things that remains with many of us after visiting the Hawaiian Islands is the so called Tiki Torch. We see them at luaus, resort properties, restaurants and shopping centers all over the islands.
Deep rooted in ancient Polynesian culture, the Tiki Torch is tied to the fire goddess Pele. But although long associated with the Hawaiian Islands, the Tiki Torch didn’t become ingrained in the worlds sub-conscience until the 1950′s.
At Kauai’s Coconut Palms hotel in 1954, Hotelier Grace Buscher turned a routine maintenance chore of lighting torches into a show for hotel guests. At sundown, “The Call to Feast” was initiated with a bartender beating a drum and a waiter blowing a conch shell as a gardener wielding a torch ran along the lagoon lighting torches. This ceremony was captured in the Elvis Presley film “Blue Hawaii” and the rest is history. Today this ceremony can be observed at Hawaiian resorts across the islands as well as other islands around the world.
Island residents are not immune to the lure of the Tiki Torch. Homeowners across the state light torches at home for much the same reason as hotels do. They provide light, deter flying insects and totally lend a atmosphere of festivity and island ambiance. Sometimes islanders use simple and inexpensive bamboo torches for something like a one-off social gatherings. In other cases we use gas burning torches as part of our overall landscape much like the resorts do. Plumbers can easily run pipe underground and through the landscape of island homes and connect them to torches that can be lit at sundown by homeowners much as they’d fire up a gas BBQ grill. Permanent Tiki Torches at home can provide years of enjoyment and can be a desirable feature for a home.
Some torches however, as I recently discovered, are much more sophisticated. I recently ran across a Tiki Torch manufacturer here in Kailua-Kona called KAZ Automated Fire Effects which designs and produces such a torch. I spoke with Kaz a few days ago after I contacted him about doing this post. They offer a unique torch solution in that the technology is entirely contained in the head of the torch. Their torches are virtually inextinguishable and automatically turn off the gas should one go out. They can be lit remotely and can even be customized to contain speakers. If you are considering adding torches as a permanent part of your landscape or pool area you should really check them out. Their website has complete details and some fun video.
Aloha and enjoy your torches! Oh and invite me to your next party. LOL.