HANAPEPE — Uncle Louie Almodova Jr. was apologetic that there were no pads for the picnic benches on Monday as he greeted Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and county Parks and Recreation Director Lenny Rapozo.
Almodova was celebrating his 94th birthday, and despite Carvalho and Rapozo’s urging him to get out of the sun, the “Mayor of Salt Pond” enjoyed the morning’s warming rays.
“Too bad we don’t have seat cushions,” Almodova said, looking over the landscape peppered with the tents of campers at the popular Westside beach park.
Carvalho, joined by members of the Kaua‘i County Council, a contingent of parks caretakers and Almodova’s family and friends, proclaimed Oct. 24 “Uncle Louie’s Day” in commemoration of the ‘Ele‘ele resident’s countless hours at Salt Pond Beach Park where he greets beach-goers with his special brand of aloha, knowledge of local culture and history.
“We met him a couple of years ago at one of the Friday Art Nights where he was hanging out in front of JJ’s ‘Ohana,” said Evelyn Ritter, who presented Almodova with a portrait depicting him with his “Mayor of Salt Pond” baseball cap.
“I didn’t have that good of a picture to work with, but we’ll always remember him hanging outside of JJ’s ‘Ohana.”
Carvalho said in his proclamation that, in accordance with Kaua‘i County Council Resolution No. 2011-62, passed in June, the main pavilion at Salt Pond Beach Park will be named “The Uncle Louie Almodova Jr. Pavilion.”
“The County of Kaua‘i hereby dedicates the Salt Pond Beach Pavilion to Uncle Louie Almodova Jr. for his many years of contributions to the Salt Pond Beach Park and honors him with this recognition on his 94th birthday celebration,”
“The main pavilion at Salt Pond Beach Park will be appropriately named after Uncle Louie for his lifetime contributions to the community and a plaque will be erected at the park to proclaim his name.”
The plaque, a granite slab bearing the resemblance of Almodova, was secured by Carvalho following the brief gathering at the pavilion.
“This is the first time the county is using this type of signage,” Rapozo said. “It won’t rust, won’t need painting, and will be an ever-lasting tribute to Uncle Louie.”
Rapozo said future signage will also be of this laser-etched granite because of its enduring and low-maintenance features.
As Almodova watched the mayor drive in the final screws anchoring the plaque in place, his main concern was “Where is the frame?”
In response, the contingent of parks workers held up the makings of the frame, springing into action to complete the project as the festivities wrapped up with the blessing.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.