Kupuna Valentine’s Day fills convention hall

LIHU‘E — More than 200 of Kaua‘i’s kupuna came together Friday to celebrate Valentine’s Day at the annual Valentine’s Day party hosted by the County of Kaua‘i Department of Parks and Recreation, Na Kupuna Council and the Lihu‘e Senior Centers Friday.

“We have people coming from Kilauea to Kekaha and all points between,” Okamoto said, watching as The Kaua‘i Bus off-loaded a kupuna group garbed in fashionable red at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall.

Okamoto, along with James Kealalio, coordinators of the annual get together for the seniors, said this year the planning committee did well, arranging for a variety of games, prize giveaways and an appearance by The Starlighters. Okamoto and Kealalio are on the staff of the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, in charge of senior programs.

“The Starlighters’ appearance was made possible through the Iwamoto Fund, administered by the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, and Betty Hamada, who offered a generous discount,” said Marilyn Matsumoto of the Lihu‘e Senior Center, host of the day’s celebration.

Okamoto said Iwamoto was a member of the Lihu‘e Senior Center and this was a way for the family to give back.

“We also would like to thank Cindy Duterte and her staff at the Parks department, and the Kaua‘i County Council for making this event possible,” Matsumoto said. “Paz Valdez created not only all the lei for the dignitaries, she made more than 200 boutonnieres which were presented to guests today.”

Okamoto said in addition to the collaborative effort among the county’s departments, Joan Kealalio, James’ mom, arranged to have volunteers from the Kapa‘a High School Interact Club available to help distribute the food and snacks and help around.

“James is our newest addition to the Parks and Recreation Department,” said Okamoto. “But he works hard and has been a tremendous help for our senior programs.”

Lenny Rapozo, the parks and recreation director, said between Kealalio and Okamoto, he wants to see the senior programs advance to the next level.

Na Kupuna Council includes senior representatives of the different neighborhood centers and meets regularly to discuss topics which impact them and their communities.

Next on the calendar for kupuna is the opening of the Kaua‘i Senior Softball League today starting at 8:30 a.m. at Isenberg Field in Lihu‘e.

Visit www.kauai.gov for more information.

Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.


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