The 5th annual Manimal Cocktail Championships are being held this weekend in Lahaina, and that means one of the most controversial aspects of the competition has started prowling the streets this morning. For the next few days Manimal’s huge cocktail mixing “Jacked Truck” will give locals, tourists, and enthusiasts alike a taste of what they can expect to enjoy during the celebration. Despite numerous complaints last year, and a vigorous campaign from critics, the mayor’s office has given the green light to the iconic symbol of the cocktail championships.
In some parts of the mainland the returning of the robins marks the beginning of spring, in other areas the turning of the leaves ushers in the fall, but in Lahaina, the appearance of Manimal’s “Jacked Truck” is an undeniable sign that one of the most loved and hated events of the year is about to begin.
Holding 2,000 gallons of Manimal cocktails, the converted mixing truck roams Front Street and the roads along the beaches alike, offering anyone 21 or older a drink or two or three in order to “Get Jacked!” about the competition. Manimal CEO Spencer Kane drove the truck for its maiden voyage of the year down Front Street this morning. “I’m always impressed by the response we get from our fans when they see the Jacked Truck. It’s become a really iconic part of the cocktail championships,” he says.
“When we began converting the mixer that would become the Jacked Truck, I was skeptical. First, I wasn’t super sure that people would really want to have a drink from something that was used to mix cement. Second, I worried that the cocktails wouldn’t be safe to drink or even taste good, and lastly I wasn’t sure what the regulatory agencies would say about driving around and distributing thousands of gallons of mixed drinks to the public. To my surprise everything went down as smooth as a Sloe SSHAM Fizz. The public went crazy for the truck, the biggest problem we had was keeping it filled. Everyone wanted a chance to drink straight from the chute, and the rates of hospitalizations were fairly consistent with previous years. While we can’t allow chute drinking anymore, the public response is still overwhelmingly positive. This year we’re hauling nothing but Lahaina Sunrises, the winning drink from last year, and expect to go through over 10,000 gallons this week.”
While it is true that the truck is one of the highlights of the event, it has always driven with a good deal of controversy trailing behind. A petition drive threatened to put the vehicle on blocks, but mayor Albert Cravalho was able to broker a last minute compromise that allowed Manimal to keep the truck on the road this year.
“I have the greatest respect for Mr. Kane and Manimal as a company. They have been a great partner in a number of endeavors and really came to the rescue after the devastation caused by hurricane Neki. However, the Jacked Truck has always made me cringe a little. I understand the public’s concerns, and to be honest we had a number of concerns ourselves. Above and beyond the worry about what sort of message having a commercial vehicle, filled with alcoholic beverages driving around distributing drinks to the masses sends to the public, we were very worried about the use of the chute, and over-serving. I’m proud to announce that we have come to an agreement that I think everyone can live with. Manimal will now use a number of hoses to deliver drinks instead of the chute, and drivers will carry at least 4 cases of water inside the cab at all times to offer a non-alcoholic option to those who’ve had too much already. It’s this kind of common sense cooperation that got me into politics to begin with, and makes Manimal such a valued part of the Lahaina community.”
Mayor Cravalho may be pleased with the agreement and new safety protocol, but people on either side of the issue say they are still not happy. Critics say the Jacked Truck sends a horrible message to children about alcohol and is a danger to the public, even with the new restrictions. Others like Lahaina resident Randy Wilcox, say banning drinking straight from the chute is an attack on their freedoms. “I mean what’s the point of filling up a mixing truck with booze if you and your buddies can’t try to gulp down a torrent flying down the chute,” he says.
“I had hoped that the Jacked Truck would be able to drive right through this bubble wrapped society, but I guess I was wrong. I suppose the next thing the safety police will want is to ban bottles and glasses during cocktail week to keep their feet safe from shards of glass. The whole point of this week is to celebrate the Manimal lifestyle, and enjoy what true freedom feels like. Sometimes it’s great, and sometimes it’s a hunk of glass in your foot. That’s life. Take this whole chute thing. It’s ridiculous! A few years ago I had started the week a little too strong, and had passed out on bench downtown. I was so out of it that I didn’t even hear the beeping as the truck backed up towards me. My buddies helped the driver line up the chute over my head and the BAM! About 10 gallons of Abramo Bomber poured all over me. I inhaled a bunch of it and I almost had to go to the hospital, but I pulled it together and learned the most important lesson of cocktail week, “Never be the first one of your friends to fall asleep.” Life’s all about lessons and the only way to learn those lessons is to take off your helmet and elbow pads and survive them pouring down a chute over your head.”