POSTED: 04:57 p.m. HST, Mar 03, 2012
For those in the Northeast looking for palm trees and white sand to escape the remnants of winter, look no farther than Philadelphia.
Visitors to the city's International Flower Show can wander through a tropical paradise of sorts thanks to this year's theme, "Hawaii: Islands of Aloha." The weeklong horticultural extravaganza opens Sunday.
Exhibits include a fantasy surf shack, a beach wedding, a 25-foot-tall waterfall and a tribute to Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire. Hula dancers and musicians from the Aloha State will perform, and contestants will vie for prizes in daily floral-arranging competitions.
And, of course, there will be flowers. Thousands upon thousands of orchids, anthuriums and other blooms commonly associated with the Hawaiian Islands will be spread throughout 10 acres of fragrant displays.
"If you're an orchid lover, this is the place to be," said Drew Becher, president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which sponsors the show.
About 250,000 people are expected at the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the event, which is billed as the world's largest indoor flower show.
Flower show organizers worked with Hawaiian tourism officials to help ensure authentic representations of the culture. Neither group wanted the exhibits to devolve into stereotypes including coconut bras, grass skirts and tiki statues.
"That's not something that we promote or perpetuate at home," said Kainoa Daines, sales director for the Oahu Visitors Bureau.