Island History

Mayor Vidinha And The Haleko Shops Ghost

At the beginning of September 1972, Mayor Antone “Kona” Vidinha’s reelection campaign headquarters was located in the second of four Haleko Shops buildings downhill of Rice Street in Lihu‘e.

But less than two weeks later — after several friends informed him the building was haunted by a ghost — the mayor suddenly announced he was vacating.

Mayor Vidinha conceded he’d been informed it was a friendly ghost, yet nonetheless made it plain that “I still don’t want to have anything to do with ghosts.”

His concern extended to his campaign workers. “Those poor people would be sitting in those offices, looking at the ceiling, just waiting for the footsteps overhead … and then they’d be all gone. I’d lose all my volunteer workers. That wouldn’t be good. It’s no good having spooks around.”

Shirley and Bill Bailey, the previous tenants of the building, admitted that they’d never actually seen the ghost whose habit it was to regularly walk upstairs between the hours of 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. And while they insisted it was friendly, it apparently unnerved them sufficiently enough to request Rev. Alfred Alsop, former pastor of the Lutheran Church, to try to exorcise the ghost, which he did without success.

The Haleko Shops buildings had been built nearly 70 years earlier as homes for German plantation workers and their families. When news spread that the mayor was leaving the property, a prior resident of the homes came forth to reveal that the parking lot behind the buildings was once an old graveyard.

Tad Miura, Mayor Vidinha’s administrative assistant, added that not only the second building, but the entire Haleko Shops was rumored to be haunted.

Mayor Vidinha (1902-1976), Kaua‘i’s first mayor from 1969 to 1972, was defeated for reelection in 1972.

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