Kupuna celebrate Valentine’s early

KEKAHA — Valentine’s Day is Feb. 14, but for Kaua‘i’s senior citizens it came a little earlier. Kupuna from around the island celebrated Valentine’s Day Friday at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center, enjoying a potpourri of dance.

Spearheaded by the county Department of Parks and Recreation, more specifically, Sadie Doi and the Hanapepe Senior Center, about 200 kupuna from Kilauea to Kekaha converged at the neighborhood center where they were greeted by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., Kaua‘i County Council members Dickie Chang, Nadine Nakamura and JoAnn Yukimura whose parents, Jenny and Jiro Yukimura, were part of the Lihu‘e group.

As the morning blossomed with music and dance, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann dropped in to extend his greetings to the kupuna.

Sandra Matsumoto, a certified Drums Alive instructor and leader, loosened the group with several dance-based fitness routines, punctuated by liberal prize giveaways and the wit of emcee Russell Wellington who was desperately trying to find the owner of an earring and a string of beads.

“Sandra keeps saying we need to expand the offering so more people can take advantage,” said Melanie Okamoto of the Parks and Recreation Department. “Right now, we must have about 800 seniors involved in a wide range of activities, including softball. There are more than 200 here, today.”

Okamoto said the event had a lot of help from the different county departments, the janitors helping to maintain the facilities, the Parks and Recreation crews helping with the tables and people from the Agency on Elderly Affairs Information and Referral section helping, overall.

Additionally, service personnel from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Mana joined in the fun, being dance partners during live dancing with Ron Toki performing.

“We got a lot of support from all the county people,” Okamoto said.

“The seniors have a lot of fun and this is a nice way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.”


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