LIHU‘E — You don’t want the jester hat, said a participant in the Wednesday step class at the Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i Fitness Center.
Wearing the jester hat was a consequence of not wearing red, or a replica maple leaf flag, to class on Wednesday. Red is a tribute to Canada Day, which is celebrated July 1.
Apparently Bev Gaga, known in more formal circles as Bev Brody, was late for “Gaga over Canada,” a label applied to the step class that is part of the Hui Ho‘ola Maika‘i Sizzling Summer Fitness Schedule hosted by Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i.
This was Gaga’s second (or did the Mayor-a-thon count?) appearance at the “wear red Wednesday” event and Gaga roared onto the exercise floor with a growl, outfitted with a tank top emblazoned with a maple leaf and matched with red Zumba pants and bling, an umbrella cap emblazoned with more maple leaves completing the ensemble.
“Does everyone know the words to O Canada?’” Gaga queried as the maple leaf flagged steppers looked on sheepishly. “Oh, the words are in my truck, so you’ll just have to take my lead. Does anyone know when Canada became a dominion?”
The correct answer earned the responder with a pair of shoelaces adorned with maple leaves (in red, of course) before Gaga broke out in the Canadian anthem.
“She always makes class fun,” said Chacha Nash of the Ho‘ola Lahui Fitness Center. “Sometimes she’s got people dressed as cowboys and cowgirls and at Christmas, they’re all in Santa outfits. It’s always fun.”
Canada officially became the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867, states a flier prepared by Gaga.
“Canada, derived from an Indian word meaning ‘big village’ … and every year we have a Canada Day fitness class, where most participants wear red and white and we honor the little bit of Canadian in all of us,” Brody said in an email. “It is scheduled to be a step and sculpt class, but you never know what might happen at a Canada Day class.”
Brody, the Get Fit Kaua‘i coordinator, said there are more than a handful of Kaua‘i residents who trace their roots to Canada. Following her lead, Brody said Mary Williamson of the American Cancer Society is from Canada as is Larry Dill, the County Engineer.
“Larry is on the list because he is implementing Complete Streets on Kaua‘i,” Brody said. “This is truly the healthiest step of all — creating an infrastructure which is safe to bike and walk is a change which will have a positive effect on the health of the entire community for generations to come.”
Canada, having the fourth lowest population density in the world, is also known to have the highest quality of life in the world, according to the United Nations Human Development Index.
The average life expectancy at birth for a Canadian is 81 years, the eighth highest in the world, states Brody’s flier. The U.S. ranks 46th at 78 years.
Brody said other people in the health-related industry who have Canadian roots include Dr. Stephen Keith, a gastroenterologist at the Kaua‘i Medical Clinic, Dr. Alan Johnson, a radiologist at the G. N. Wilcox Memorial Hospital and, although he grew up in Taiwan, Dr. Steve Penner of the KMC-‘Ele‘ele has parents who are Canadian.
Laurie Goodwin of Syngenta and Nancy Grantham, retired resort owner of Grantham Resorts, also trace their roots to Canada.
Canada Day, marking the anniversary of the formation of the union of British North American provinces in a federation under the name of Canada, is celebrated with fireworks and the year’s biggest national party.
That revelry is shared by the Pacific Missile Range Facility, which celebrates its Stars and Stripes Freedom Celebration July 1 from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. as a prelude to America’s Independence Day celebration.
Visitors are welcome, and reminded to bring a photo ID for entry to the free event through the PMRF main gate, also known as the Housing Gate.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.