Three feet of snow pack and freezing temperatures welcomed the sun-seeking crowd of over 1500 as they packed into the parking lot of the Polar Theater...All in hopes to eventually be ushered onto one of the three charter busses waiting by the building. Those busses would soon be airport-bound with the 106 hysterical, screaming winners of the free Hawaiian vacation giveaway, compliments of the local rock station KWHL.
Ahh but there was a catch or two...
Everyone was given a ticket upon entry to the theater. If you had one of the 53 winning tickets, you got to bring one person with you but that person had to be present, no calling anyone at home to come along...and you had to have your bags packed when you got there because the drawing for the contest was at 7:30 am and the flight left Anchorage for Honolulu at 10 am! Winners were only allowed to make one phone call and no one could bring you anything.
This crazy contest brought out Anchorage's wildest...some standing outside in line for over 5 hours, wearing nothing but bikinis or bermuda's and lugging surf boards or snorkel gear. Me? Well I had a full suitcase packed and thrown into the back of my '69 Bronco that was now parked on top of a 6 foot snowbank...the only place I could find when I got there late, after grabbing my friend Jeff who was already skipping school that day. He knew nothing about the contest before I called him saying "Pack a bag, we're going to Hawaii. Pick you up in ten!"
For weeks the radio station had teased it's listeners with the promise of a free trip to Hawaii. Little did we know there would be 106 trips handed out and with such unheard-of contest rules.
Speaking for myself, though I'm sure some of the other winners agree...this would prove to be the funnest day of my life.
Not only that but as an impressionable high school senior, the whole experience truly changed my personal view toward 'success', happiness and life itself. One taste of the Irie and Aloha of island life, and I was hooked.