HONOLULU, HI—"Aloha" means hello and goodbye, and it was a fitting word to be uttered by the cast and crew of ABC's Lost during Saturday's "Sunset on the Beach" party on Waikiki Beach, a celebration of the world premiere of the show's final season. Lost hasn't held one of these fan-friendly beach bashes since the premiere of Season 3, and though cast members were greeting fans after a lengthy hiatus, there was no doubt that the event also served as a fond farewell. After all, the series will wrap production—permanently—in the next few weeks.
Thousands of Losties gathered on Waikiki for what is undoubtedly television's coolest fan event, some setting up camp as early as six in the morning after attempts at camping out the night before were nixed by beach security. Thankfully, all I needed was a press badge to get red carpet access and chat with the actors that played these crash survivors, ageless guardians, and smarmy backstabbers that we've been entranced with since 2004.
A gathering of Lost actors of this proportion is about as rare as one of the program's major questions being answered. Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Michael Emerson, Jorge Garcia, Yunjin Kim, Nestor Carbonell, Naveen Andrews, Daniel Dae Kim, Ken Leung, Jeff Fahey, Henry Ian Cusick, Harold Perrineau Jr., and Terry O'Quinn (sorry ladies, no Ian Somerhalder) were all in attendance, as were rockstar showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and ABC president Stephen McPherson. For any Lost fan, this was head-explosion central.
Incredibly, it seemed as though the cast was having even more fun than the fans. Evangeline Lilly, who we would forgive for being a stuck-up red-carpet princess, was anything but. She may have looked like she was primped for the Oscars, but she was joking, laughing, and dancing with reporters and fans like an old friend. And it goes without saying she was a knockout, green eyes turning me into jelly while I mumbled a few questions for her.
The same can be said for the very charismatic Josh Holloway, who is the anti-Sawyer in person. He was all Georgia charm, and was just as happy to be there as his army of shrieking female fans. When I asked him about wearing that ear-to-ear grin he had plastered on his face all night, he simply turned to the fans behind him, the beach, and the party set up and said, "Wouldn't you be?" This is a man who doesn't take his stardom for granted and counts his blessings every day he rolls out of bed.
Michael Emerson, who I've spoken with many times and is always an experience in one way or another (he is still creepy Ben, after all), has definitely taken a shine to his celebrity since we first spoke. He absolutely loves to interact with fans (and politely introduce his wife Carrie Preston, who plays Arlene in True Blood) and never disappoints. Through a few barricades, a fan asked him how it feels to be the bad guy, and without hesitation he quips, "I don't know that he is!" to a chorus of laughter.
If you ever have the pleasure of meeting him in person, count yourself lucky. I'm constantly astounded by his wicked intelligence and fantastic sound bites. I asked him if he thought Ben would be a fan of Lost, and he paused for what seemed like an eternity (being in his presence is like being in a time warp) but was probably more like a full second and half and stated, "No, Ben doesn't have time for fiction." I nearly doubled over in some sick combination of fear and laughter. Mr. Emerson is more Benjamin Linus than the other way around, and it's a wonderful thing to witness in person.
Even Matthew Fox, who is notoriously uncomfortable with his celebrity and is eagerly awaiting some quiet time up in Oregon after the show concludes, was all smiles. This was a par-tay, and the mood was infectious.
But while all of this is old hat to most of the cast members, the magnitude of the event was probably best put by a relative Lost newbie, Ken Leung, who plays Miles Straum. "This is very new for me," he said, eyes wide with wonder. "I have the sha—I'm shaking. It's overwhelming... but in a good way."
And that's the exact same feeling that I, as well as the estimated 14,000 thousand other fans in attendance and millions around the world, get from watching each episode of Lost. Thank you, Lost cast and crew, for redefining how I watch television.
Video: Michael Emerson pals around with fans!
Follow TV.com writer and island enthusiast Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom