Elvis in the house

WAIMEA — Elvis Presley fans are getting fewer, said Basilio Fuertes of the Waimea Senior Center 49th anniversary celebration steering committee.

But there are plenty on Kauai.

“We have our own ‘Elvis,’” Fuertes said. “Jimmy Okada is our ‘Elvis’ when we celebrate ‘The Wonder of You,’ the 49th anniversary of the senior center.”

Okada, a former Waimea businessman, became a member of the Waimea Senior Center when he retired from “being a good mechanic,” said Dave Walker, Okada’s son-in-low, Thursday at the Waimea Neighborhood Center.

“We celebrate the 49th year since this neighborhood center was opened to the public,” said Michelle Correa, site manager for the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation. “That’s longer than I have been alive, and how different the landscape and lifestyle of Waimea has changed since the facility opened. But the seniors who were here when the doors opened, and those who are here now, all contribute to the life of this building.”

Okada, a past president of the Waimea Senior Center, and described as a mentor to many, was the idol, garbed in his Elvis Presley attire complete with a headdress which highlighted Elvis’ hair.

“I was standing next to him, and I didn’t know that was Jimmy,” said Aaron Uyeda of the Parks and Recreation Department as he waited to serve lunch.

Correa said the seniors have much to offer the community.

“I have only been with the parks department for three years,” she said. “And in that short period of time have learned so much just by listening to their stories. A typical Waimea senior is very active in the community, volunteering and contributing to events like the Waimea Town Celebration, and others.”

Frecky Okada of the Lihue Senior Center said this was the first time she had to put money in the box when riding the bus to get to the celebration.

“All this time, I thought seniors were free,” Frecky said.

Okada, Marilyn Matsumoto, the Lihue Senior Center president, and Pacita Jimenez were among the representatives of the other senior centers on the island who descended on the Waimea Neighborhood Center for the celebration.

“Our Lihue center was formed a year after Waimea,” Matsumoto said. “We made an experience out of getting here, riding The Kauai Bus for the first time. Pacita picked us up and we caught the bus from Macy’s. The ride was pretty good, though. We got to see a lot of things.”

Correa said there were representatives of senior centers from Kilauea to Kekaha.

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