Hawaii just can’t seem to name anything after Barack Obama, the state’s only native son to become president. Supporters of the president have tried for seven years to name something in the Aloha State after President Obama, but have failed at every turn.
The renaming of Sandy Beach after Barack Obama is just the latest failed effort to have something in Hawaii bearing the president’s name.
“Barack Obama Beach” was apparently not meant to be. Stanley Chang, who recently stepped down as a member of the Honolulu City Council, began spearheading the renaming last year after a Congressional staffer told him that Obama body surfed at Sandy Beach as a teenager and possessed a distinct fondness for the locale. Chang had submitted a bill which maintained that Sandy Beach was one of President Obama’s “favorite places in the world,” the Washington Post reported.
A childhood photo of Barack Obama with his late mother Ann Dunham in Hawaii, circa 1963. pic.twitter.com/eXStmrxTB5
— History In Pictures (@HistoryInPix) December 26, 2015
Almost immediately following the Obama 2008 election, politicians in Hawaii began efforts to name something in honor of the president. First came two different schools, followed by an “abandoned lot” and then came the attempt to name a “scenic overlook” after President Obama. Similar campaigns to name two state holidays after the president also failed.
The only thing in Hawaii that currently is named after President Obama is a shaved ice treat, the “Snowbama” snow cone which consists of cherry, passion guava, lime, and lemon flavoring. The Snowbama cone can be had for $4 at the Island Snow stand, one of the president’s favorite stops during his trips to Hawaii for vacation. Obama supporters also tried to have the 1960s apartment building where the president grew up added to the National Historic Registry, but failed in that effort as well, the Chicago Tribune reports.
— People magazine (@people) December 19, 2015
Exactly why Hawaii has failed at honoring President Obama remains a bit unclear. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell told the media part of the renaming issue stems from a protective feeling about the preservation of Polynesian culture. The elimination of traditional Hawaiian names for roads, beaches, and buildings has been met with some opposition for quite some time.
“People here believe that land has spirit and feeling. It’s not just dirt,” Mayor Kirk Caldwell added.
Some feared renaming Sandy Beach, which is known for its treacherous shore break and huge waves, after the president, could have some unintended consequences. A desire to body surf on Barack Obama Beach could attract novices who are not prepared for maneuver the waves, and wind up becoming another spinal cord injury statistic. Since 2009, a total of 16 surfers have suffered such severe injuries on the Hawaiian beach.
Timing and cost have also reportedly been derailing factors in the Obama naming movement. Some feel that naming something after the president while he is “so young,” alive, and still serving in the Oval Office is premature. Local regulations prohibit lawmakers from renaming or naming public buildings and parks after individuals while they are still alive or until they have devoted at least five decades to public service.
Democratic Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz deemed the ongoing drive to rename something after Obama both “a little goofy” and “opportunistic.” Senator Schatz said that folks should not be attempting such efforts while he is still in office and his term of public service is not yet complete. President Obama turned down a $75 million offer to host the Obama presidential library, Chicago was chosen as the location instead.
Although Hawaii has had zero luck naming anything after the first president from the state, Florida has been successful in several endeavors to put President Obama’s name on something in the Sunshine State. East First Street in Pahokee was recently named Barack Obama Boulevard and another town in Palm Beach County renamed a section of highway after the president.
Naming buildings, roads, and public spaces after presidents is a long-stranding tradition in the United States. Most presidents have multiple areas in various states bearing their names.
[Image via Will Lester/The Sun via AP, Pool]