POIPU — Sheraton Kauai Resort Executive Chef Roger Liang was celebrating a birthday on Thursday, the same day as the Fourth of July.
Why not “Make a Day of It,” decided the StarWish Kauai, the charity fundraising effort by the Sheraton Kauai Ohana.
The event, coinciding with the Independence Day celebration taking place throughout the country, drew a steady crowd of people taking advantage of clear skies, warm weather and the lure of the beach.
“This is a pretty good crowd,” said June Cappiello, Sheraton Kauai community relations officer who was decked out in red, white and blue.
Chip Bahouth, Sheraton Kauai general manager, asked participants where watermelons come from, prefacing the event which drew a crowd of participants eager to taste the ice-cold slices.
“Watermelon comes from Chef Roger who is celebrating his birthday,” Bahouth said, triggering StarWish volunteers to bestow a birthday lei on the executive chef. “Now, are we ready to rumble? It’s time to grind to the rind!”
Between the watermelon contest and the highlight rubber ducky race, people took in the Wong’s traveling petting zoo, which offered hands-on experiences with baby goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs.
A “Guess the Weight of the Pig” contest earned Krystal Buck a $50 dining certificate for Lava’s the poolside eatery at the Sheraton.
Annie Hines of Bellevue, Wash., may have been edged out of the adult division for the watermelon eating contest, but placing her mother’s name on the entry, her lucky duck emerged from the pack to earn her family a pool bungalow for the day with lunch for four during the rubber ducky race.
An employee of Lava’s, Robin Castle, got the No. 2 spot for a $100 dining certificate for RumFire where proceeds from its Table 53 will benefit the Kauai Veterans Council during the month of July.
Delany Sunderland filled in No. 3 for a beach cabana for the day, the participant in the 10 and under division of the watermelon eating contest making plans with her dad on when they were going to use the cabana.
Nick Valintini clenched his fist in a pump as he was named No. 4 winner for a $50 dining certificate at Lava’s. Holley Allree got the breakfast buffet for two with her No. 5 finish and Nato Cadiente earned the StarWish Beach Pack of a visor, towel and bag which was selling well due to the weather.
Carrie Hantek was a dual winner, picking up a $25 certificate for the Link Cafe with her seventh-place finish and a snorkel rental for a day for two with her eighth-place finish.
“My grandson wanted this,” said Jim Zupancich of Chicago as he was named the last place duck. “I got No. 2 because he was supposed to be fast, not last. But at least I got the flying duck hat which my grandson wanted.”