Good food, fun at Senior Extravaganza

LIHU’E — Tessie Balmores Kinnaman watched silently and shook her head as she watched Katsuichi Shimabukuro and Yukiko Tsuyama work on a huge batch of chicken hekka.

Balmores was joined by Waimea High School track coach Dave Walker, and the pair watched silently.

According to Waimea Neighborhood Center leader Helen Santiago, the hekka recipe is a joint creation of Tsuyama and Jimmy Okada, and was one of the many items available at the Senior Extravaganza 2006 at the Kaua’i War Memorial Convention Hall.

“Ask her when Mr. Okada puts in the beer,” Santiago challenged. But, Walker and Balmores knew better.

When Okada poked his head through the doorway to check on the progress of the cooking, Walker queried on the beer, Okada laughing, “When she not looking, of course.”

Waimea Senior Centers participants had the responsibility of leading the craft fair and morning-entertainment section, and the convention hall filled with the wafting aroma of the hekka.

Among the vendors, Donna Pickard of the Regency at Puakea had a small display touting some of the aspects of their senior living center.

However, Pickard was also chaperoning a group of residents from the Regency. “We have more coming for the afternoon show,” Pickard said while helping one lady find a seat close to their display.

“This is not your cookie-cutter display,” Pickard said. “Everything here is about our residents.”

Viola Lozito was manning a table that she explained was for their Children Helping Children program.

Lozito said they bought a lot of items from the Kapa’a Senior Center, and with the help of children from the Boys & Girls Club, the children packaged care packages for shipment to children in other countries.

The proceeds from their sale would help defray expenses like postage, she explained.

“My garage is filled with a lot of merchandise,” Lozito said. “We’re a new venture, so until it gets going, everything is in the garage.”

Walker noted that his garage, too, has a lot of items he stores for the Waimea Senior Center participants, but that didn’t bother him as he munched a hot dog sans the bun.

Representatives from the various senior centers around the island congregated in the lobby and kitchen area of the Kaua’i War Memorial Convention Hall, where they offered up a variety of craft items, baked goods, plate lunches, snacks, and a continuous flow of entertainment for people who were arriving for the afternoon variety show featuring more seniors performing.

“I’m the stage hand,” said Marta Hulsman, the site leader for Kapa’a and Anahola, as she helped Lozita at her table. “My job is to make sure the chairs and microphones and other things are all in place for them.”

The day-long event is one of the major fund-raisers for the Kaua’i Senior Centers program, and in addition to featuring some of the creations of Kaua’i’s seniors, the event showcases the many talents of the island’s kupuna.

In the meantime, the hekka had already been pulled into the kitchen serving area, and the wok was cleaned out.

“We’ll be making more,” Walker laughed. “Just wait and see.”

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