Thanksgiving week is always an exciting time on Maui - and not just because we're getting ready to give thanks for our freedom and fill the ol' tank with turkey and stuffing.
One of the highlights of the week is always the EA Sports Maui Invitational NCAA basketball tournament conducted annually at the Lahaina Civic Center. This year's tournament features the lineup of North Carolina, Mississippi State, Butler, Marquette, Texas, Southern Cal, Illinois and host Chaminade.
For sports fans on the Mainland, the Maui Invitational is the true tipoff of the college basketball season. It may end with March Madness, but for the true zealot it begins with Lahaina lunacy.
It also is an invaluable promotional tool for the Maui visitor industry. Gorgeous shots of our island paradise will be broadcast around the world on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU Monday through Wednesday.
In addition to tipping off the college basketball season, the tournament serves as the beginning of a promotional period for Maui focused on professional sports.
The invitational will be followed in January by the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the first event of the 2013 PGA Tour.
These sports events burnish Maui's image around the world. It is impossible to calculate how many visitors are driven to book their vacation here by the images seen during these events.
Of course, there is also the direct economic impact. The Maui Invitational will add several million dollars to our economy this week.
So, thanks to the teams and the fans who are gathered here this week. We know you'll enjoy your stay and want you to know we appreciate having you here.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.