On September 13, 2010 CBS and Hawaii Five-0 held the very first Sunset on the Beach. Since this first ever SOTB occurred one week before the new H50 had premiered on network TV, the event had a distinctive local flavor as the international audience hadn’t seen the show yet; a way for CBS, the cast and crew to say thank you to the people of Oahu.
Well, here we are, five SOTB’s later and while the event still has all the Hawaiian flavor and charm it has always had, and is still intended to be a huge ‘Mahalo’ to the good people of Oahu, each year more and more fans come from all over the world to congregate on Queen’s Beach in Waikiki, to stand along the barricades in the hope of spending a few precious moments with their favorite actors, take pictures, hopefully some selfies with the stars and see a preview showing of the season’s first new episode.
A year ago, when I started this page, one of my first blogs was a SOTB review entitled “SOTB – The View from my Sofa”. Like many fans I had to satisfy my desire to be a part of the events by staying up way past my bedtime to watch the live feeds, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts on my computer. Not this year though! This year I was able to get together the money and with a wonderful roommate, Lynnette Janssen, to help share the expenses, we were off to Oahu and an adventure we never thought we get to be a part of. SOTB was such a wonderful experience I honestly don’t know how to put it into words that will adequately convey just how incredible it really is. But before it got the chance to be incredible, it could have very easily not happened at all.
I had spent an entire month worrying as I watched from home as storm after storm headed across the Pacific toward Hawaii. Thankfully, they all missed hitting the island head on but the effects of each storm were wreaking havoc on Oahu. Unusually high heat, unbearable humidity and worst of all, rain, rain and more rain. It seemed not a day went by without another video being posted of water rushing down Honolulu streets like rivers. I was scared to death SOTB wouldn’t happen.
Lynnette, among others, keep telling me to calm down…everything will be fine…we’ll be with friends …we’ll have fun no matter what….and still I couldn’t help the almost panicked feeling that I was finally going to get to a SOTB and it wouldn’t take place. But I tried…really tried to stay positive, think happy thoughts and pray. Oh yes…. pray. I didn’t really need Peter Lenkov to tweet out a request for prayers for the rain to stop. I had already been doing it for weeks.
So on Friday, September 11th as my plane began its decent into Oahu and the pilot’s voice came over the speaker to say “We’re making our approach to Honolulu. Weather today is hot, humid and rather rainy” I was still determined to be positive. The rain will stop. There is no way the rain won’t stop.
Then we landed and I turned my cell phone back on and what’s the first thing I see? A tweet from Mike Gordon (@Crankydad – Honolulu Star-Advertiser) saying that CBS was waiting for Saturday morning to make a decision as to whether SOTB would, indeed, take place. Needless to say, my heart sank. NO! This can’t be happening. Five years…I’ve wanted to go to SOTB for five years. They can’t cancel it…they just can’t.
So I get off the plane and head to baggage claim and the first (of many) wonderful experience of my week. Lynnette was waiting for me by the luggage carousel, her warm, happy face greeting me like a long lost sister. Anyone seeing us fiercely hugging would have never guessed that this moment, after five long years of friendship on social media, was the very first time we’d ever actually met. It felt right and natural and wonderful from the very first moment and only got better as the week went on.
Thanks to Lynnette’s wonderful niece Laura, we were at our hotel in no time dodging rain the entire way. It really was miserable out but we were excited because we were going to meet a lot of our wonderful 808Ohana for dinner. It turned out to be a fantastic night full of great food, fun, and laughter. We had a blast seeing all our friends we’d met before on previous trips and meeting new friends as well. By the time we got back to our hotel I’d been awake for 26 hours but ohhhhhhh it was so worth it!
Of course, we wanted to get up early on Saturday and out to the beach to stake out a spot for all the SOTB festivities. Thank goodness we had the presence of mind to call the hotel operator before we fell asleep and request 7am wakeup call because, honestly, we were dead to the world when the phone rang the next morning. But, Mother Nature was not in a cooperative mood. It was POURING! We got up and put on swim suits (I mean, what the hell, we were going to get soaked anyway right?) and headed down to the beach.
Several of our friends were already there, under umbrellas and tents, along the rail lining where, hopefully, the red carpet would be that night, but honestly, it wasn’t looking good at all. The clouds were thick and dark, the rain was relentlessly pelting down and you could have cut the humidity with a butter knife and CBS still hadn’t made a decision on what they were going to do.
But we were still managing to have fun. All together there were probably about 10 of us staked out on our side of the beach and we spent a few very wet, sultry hours just talking about the show, cursing the skies, catching up on all our personal news when all of a sudden, off in the distance over the ocean a small patch of very pale blue emerged from the gloom. “Hey…look at that…I see blue! Come on little blue….you can do it….come on out…..” Anyone listening to us would think we were insane but, lo and behold, little by little, that small pale patch began to turn into a brighter blue, then a larger patch until, finally, miraculously, the sky began to clear and the sun…yes… the sun….began to shine! I could have cried…I’m really not sure that I didn’t!
But… oh… once the sun came out…. dear Lord… that’s when it got REALLY HOT! The heat along with the humidity was truly incapacitating. Thank God for the Pacific Ocean at our feet where we could go, and did go, several times, to cool off. But for the crews that very shortly started to arrive to begin setting everything up for the night that wasn’t an option. I honestly don’t know how those guys did it. It was unbearably hot and they had to build the stage, set up all the equipment and the huge speakers and lighting stands. Set up the chairs and the red carpet and everything that would have been done on Friday if not for the weather. You should have heard the cheer when the big screen was hoisted up into place.
Once the crews got the stage and sound equipment set up, John Ondrasik and Five for Fighting came out to do their sound check. I’ve never been to a sound check before. It was fun and laid back as the band ran through a few songs making sure all the sound was up to par for that night’s concert. It was really great to hear him play “All for One” just for those of us on the beach and many of us sang along with him. It was cute…he actually seemed surprised that we knew all the words.
It was around 12 noon when Peter Lenkov and his entourage arrived to greet the fans who had been camped out on the beach, some for several days. He showed up with boxes of Liliha’s Coco puffs and some H50 swag to give away to the fans who were braving the heat. It was so wonderful to finally get to meet “the boss” in person. He is such a nice man, fun to talk to and he really is hugely appreciative to all the fans of H50 not just those of us who were braving the elements to be there that day.
The wonderful Dennis Chun also came along to meet and greet the fans on the beach as well. I have said this before and I will say it every time I have the opportunity. There is no better ambassador of Aloha than Dennis Chun. He is warm and gracious and so thankful to every single fan out there who watches and supports the show. He is remarkably generous with his time and never misses an opportunity to meet and thank the fans. I was overjoyed to meet him the first time in 2013 when I visited Hawaii and it was a joy to see him again this year. When he saw me, he embraced me like an old friend and have to admit, he just makes my heart melt with his kindness. He is truly one of a kind!
Do you guys remember the photograph Masi Oka posted on Instagram of the entire cast on the beach? It was from Kono’s episode, 5.23 “Mo’o ‘olelo Pu”. The cast was sitting against Kono’s boat. Well, I took that picture and had it made into two 8×10 photographs which Lynnette and I were going to use to try to get autographs. So we, of course, got Peter to sign them and then Dennis. As we’re standing there by our barricade, (Director/Producer) Bryan Spicer came by so, naturally, we asked him to sign our pictures too. At first he looked down at them and said “but I’m not in this picture” then took a double take. “Wait a minute” he said. “I took this picture!! Where did YOU get it??” Well, Lynnette and I kind of looked at each other, at a loss for words, wondering if we were in trouble. “Ummm… it was online… honest… we didn’t pirate it…. Masi posted it on Instagram” we stammered. It really was kind of funny. “Oh” he said. “It’s so rare when we get the entire cast together in one place, I wanted to commemorate it. I used Masi’s camera to take the picture. I didn’t even know it was out there, on line. I have a huge blow up of this hanging in my office”. Relieved Lynnette said “Well then, it doesn’t matter if you’re not in the picture, you have to sign it now. You’re the photographer”. He happily added his signature.
After a bit of fun with a trivia contest (that I would have soooooo won if I’d been chosen to participate LOL) and some more well wishes from the fans, Peter and company left to go get ready for the rest of the evening. Lynnette and I thought it was a good time for us to go freshen up as well. We felt like we were melting. Leaving our spot on the beach well-guarded by our friends, we went back to our hotel for a shower, a short nap and a change of clothes. SOTB was happening after all.
A couple of hours later we returned to our spot refreshed and ready to stand guard so others could go get ready as well. It didn’t take very long before people were starting to flood the beach from all sides. Since I’ve never been to a SOTB before it looked like a zillion people were there but we were told that the crowd this year, while still pretty impressive, was smaller than in previous years. Perhaps the weather kept folks away. Who knows, but it worked out well for us since we were right in front and there weren’t a ton of people pushing at us from the back. We had the perfect spot.
As 6pm approached there was an electricity going through the crowd and when the announcement came that the cast were beginning to arrive you could literally feel the buzz. We managed to see absolutely everyone! We got to talk to almost everyone. We actually got to spend several moments talking and taking pictures with almost everyone. It was, to use my favorite word, friggin’ AWESOME!!!
Ian Anthony Dale: OMG…this man is incredible. I have always thought he was incredibly good looking but I have to tell you, TV does not do him justice. Maybe it’s the fact that he is such a sweetheart, open and gracious, and funny!!! The entire package is almost too much to be allowed! He came down the red carpet and we were all yelling his name and asking for selfies and pictures. He said “ok…which one? Selfie or picture?” I said “can’t we have both?” He just laughed and let me (and everyone else, of course) take his picture before he approached where we were standing to get some selfies. We all crowded around him for the group shot and he actually put his arm around me to get us all in closer. I could have died! After we took the picture he asked “So, what would you guys like to see more of in the show?” Everyone was throwing out their wishes when I said “Well, I thought that bathtub scene was pretty awesome. I wouldn’t mind seeing another one of those.” His response? “Hell, I wouldn’t mind DOING another one of those!” Everyone really got a kick out of that! LOL
Jorge Garcia: I have loved Jorge since he played Hurley in LOST and it was a thrill to meet him. He also came over to us and let us all take pictures and get his autograph. When we all crowded together in an awkward attempt to try to squeeze everyone into one selfie he comically suggested that “perhaps landscape mode would have worked a bit better…no?” He was just so nice and accommodating! Everyone really enjoyed him and his wonderful sense of humor.
Taylor Wily: Who doesn’t love Kamekona? Taylor and his entire family walked the carpet and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Lynnette and I managed to grab Taylor’s attention and he came right over to us and gave us big hugs! I noticed Taylor’s son standing next to him (and I cannot for the life of me remember his name…sorry!) and said “I’m really sorry Gracie hit that home run off you.” Well, he broke out into the biggest smile knowing someone remembered him from that episode. He was so adorable!
Shawn Garrett: Seems Kamekona can’t go anywhere without his loyal cousin Flippa there too! LOL Shawn was another fun guy on the carpet that night. He happily talked to all the fans along the barricade as we all took pictures. We told him how much we enjoyed his music and asked if he was performing that night. Unfortunately, he wasn’t. I asked him how everyone was holding up filming with all the horrendous weather and heat they’d been having on the island. He told me that, although he, of course, films much less than the main cast, it has been brutal. Only made me wonder how on earth the others were fairing, especially Alex and anyone else who has very physical things to do in the show.
Teilor Grubbs: OMG where did our little monkey go? Teilor has grown into an incredibly beautiful, poised young woman. She handled the red carpet like an old pro, which, considering this is her sixth one, isn’t a surprise. As she was being interviewed by the press directly across from us, the rest of her family hung back, which was lucky for us because that meant they were standing right in front of us and they were so nice, they took the time to interact with all of us. I asked Teilor’s dad if the writers had asked him for any advise on the trials and tribulations of raising a new teen. He laughed and said “No, not really, but we haven’t had any trials to speak of yet.” I told him not to worry. “Just love her and trust that you raised her right and you’ll be just fine”.
Daniel Dae Kim: Like Jorge, I have loved Daniel since LOST. When he came over to us (kind of ignoring his publicist who was trying to pull him the other way …God love him) I asked if I could tell him something. “Sure” he said. I said “I just wanted to finally thank you” He looked up puzzled “I never would have even watched the first episode of Five-0 if it hadn’t been for you. But I just loved you in LOST and so I followed you over to Five-0. Now here I am, 5 years later at SOTB and I just wanted to say thank you.” He said “that is so kind of you to say…thank you”. I couldn’t have been more thrilled!
Grace Park: Walking down the carpet looking positively stunning in a beautiful yellow dress, Grace can take your breath away. It’s really incredible when you think about how beautiful she is on TV and realize she is even lovelier in person. And she seemed to be really having a great time. She raised her arms and waved to all the fans as she came into view, managing to acknowledge even those standing way in the back. And just like Daniel before her, she pretty much ignored her publicist who was trying to pull her towards the press line and came over to all of us instead. She was warm and gracious as she signed autographs for us and let everyone take their pictures. She was perfect.
Chi McBride: He looked like he was having an absolute blast. Fun and gregarious, his expansive personality filled the carpet. Unfortunately, for my little section, he was hustled from one side of us, over to the press, then back on the other side of us, so we never actually got to meet him. But he sure was fun to watch on that carpet!
There were others who made their way down the carpet. John Ondrasik, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Al Harrington and new cast member Sarah Carter. Even some of the pirates who are featured in the Season 6 premiere. Many people asked the pirates for their autographs which they happily supplied, writing simply “PIRATE” as their moniker. Of course Dennis Chun was there and he brought his lovely partner Laura. It was wonderful to see her again, as I had met her along with Dennis back in 2013. She, like Dennis, embraced me like an old friend! What a wonderful couple.
Alex O’Loughlin: As would be expected, Alex was the most popular star on the carpet and the last to arrive. He spent a great deal of time greeting the fans at the arrivals area and by the time he made his way down our way the entire production was running extremely late. The weather was cooperating so far but there were reports of rain all over the island, pretty much all around us. For some unknown, miraculous reason, we were staying dry but there was no guarantee how long it was going to last. So they were hustling Alex down the carpet pretty fast but, of course, he had to stop and talk to the press which was situated right in front of us. And, of course, we were all yelling his name. He tried…he really tried to come over to us but, like with Daniel and Grace, his publicist was pulling him down the carpet in the opposite direction. He turned toward us, threw a double shaka, looked right at me and said “I’m sorry…. I have to go… but I’ll try to come back”. I mean… he talked right to me … direct eye contact and everything!! Oh my friggin’ God! Seriously, I thought I’d held it together pretty well all night until that moment but I have to admit, when he actually spoke to me, my inner 15 year old took over and I totally lost my head. As he’s walking away I was pleading… “no… don’t go… come back… please come back”. It was pretty pathetic! ROFLMAO
Alex being the last one on the carpet, they quickly hustled all the cast and crew and their families into the white chairs and the stage portion of the show was set to begin. Peter made a wonderful little speech about the weather and how he was terribly worried that SOTB wouldn’t happen. He thanked everyone for all their support and for being there and waiting throughout the long wet night and the hot, blistering afternoon. But most of all he was grateful for everyone’s prayers for an end to the rain!
In past years it’s usually been Alex who’s called upon to make a little speech before the episode is shown but this year Peter asked Chi McBride to do it and OMG… the man is hysterical. If you haven’t been to Peter’s Instagram to watch the clips of Chi’s speech you are missing a real treat. The best part was Chi and Grace leading the entire crowd in a very funny rendition of the H50 theme song! Priceless!
After Chi was done making everyone laugh Peter came back to introduced John Ondrasik and Five for Fighting. John announced that this would be the first time they ever played “All for One” on stage and as the H50 video from the 100th episode was shown on the screen they did just that. It was incredible hearing almost the whole crowd singing along. It was really a great moment.
Finally…. finally…. it was time for the main event. The showing of the premiere episode of Season 6. After a slight hiccup with the sound which was …. well… actually…. there wasn’t any sound at all …. they had to shut it down and start again…. the episode began. I will not give away any spoilers here only to say I thought the episode was really, really great. I admit I didn’t quite catch 100% of the dialog because the ocean is really kind of loud but I got a good portion of it and was not disappointed. There was a bit of everything that makes H50 so great. I laughed, I shuddered, I gasped, I cheered and I can’t wait to watch it all over again this coming Friday. Don’t worry…I’ll do a proper review then.
Way too soon the episode was over. Suffice it to say it was a huge success. It seemed like everyone really enjoyed it a lot. But the night wasn’t over yet. There was still a Five for Fighting concert to be had. Unfortunately, Lynnette and I were, at that point, pretty wrung out. Between being up for well over 24 hours the day before, spending all Saturday on the beach with the rain, heat and humidity and combined with the excitement of SOTB, we decided to head back to the hotel for the night. But we could hear the concert and all the great music as we walked to our hotel and we even caught a tiny bit of it from our open balcony door. They sounded totally awesome!
As we laid in our beds talking about everything that happened all throughout the day we still couldn’t believe we had actually been a part of it all. It was a day and a night I will never forget and if I never get to do it again I can at least say I did it once. It’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world.
I want to thank Peter Lenkov and all the powers that be at CBS for putting SOTB together for all the fans to enjoy. I want to thank the cast for being incredible accessible and gracious to all the hot, sweaty, screaming fans vying for their attention on the carpet. SOTB is a voluntary event none of them are required to attend and yet they never give the impression they aren’t sincerely happy to be there. They are the BEST!
Now…off to start hording my pennies for next year!
A note about photographs: Most of the pictures above were taken by me on the beach and beside the red carpet. A special thanks to @jlopie1, @LisaLisa98 and the @H50hana, @Keith_Sato, @ckerwick, @AlohaBruce, @juliehawaii, @dtwmiller and @MrsAmyBakari for all the photos which were taken by them and stolen by me for this blog. As for any photos not taken by those listed above, if they had watermarks I have left them in place. If a photo is not watermarked and anyone recognizes it as one of their own, please accept my sincere thanks for your awesome photography skills and the use of your photo.
I also want to add a huge thank you to all those listed above for welcoming Lynnette and I into their beach Ohana and letting us share their traditional spot on the beach for SOTB. Also for the wonderful dinner we all attended our first night in Oahu. And, as the week went on, for taking us around the island and showing us all the traditional as well as H50 sites we’ve come to know and love. You guys are the best friends anyone could ever ask for.
Mahalo nui loa to you all. Aloha. Malama Pono