WAILUA — Freckles Smith was confused Wednesday afternoon when Ron Margolis, co-chair of the Rotary Club of Kapaa’s Taste of Hawaii, showed up at Smith’s Tropical Paradise with a contingent of Rotarians.
“It’s not Sunday yet?” asked Freckles. “You folks are coming on Sunday.”
Margolis, accompanied by fellow Rotarians Ray Carpenter, Vicky Masuoka, Carol Saiki, and Sally Cravens, instead came to bestow Honorary Paul Harris Fellows accolades to the Smith ohana, including Freckles, Mokihana, Ali‘i, and sons Kahanu, Kamika, and Kaleo.
The award was presented because Smith’s Tropical Paradise has been the site of the Taste of Hawaii since 1995, resulting in the Rotary Club of Kapaa being able to distribute more than $1 million to Kauai for youth, education, literacy, vocational and community projects, Margolis said.
“This award recognizes them for their hearts of service and for demonstrating a shared purpose with the objectives and mission of the Rotary Foundation to build world understanding and peace,” he said.
“Smith’s Tropical Paradise is clearly the perfect venue for having a great time at the ‘Ultimate Sunday Brunch,’” Margolis said. “With a beautiful tropical environment, all the wildlife, the water over the lagoons, and room to spread out, the Smith family has gifted the Rotary Club a venue to grow, and expand Taste of Hawaii.”
The Taste of Hawaii was started in 1988 by the Rotary Club of Kapaa as a fundraising project to support education and other community efforts.
It was first held at the Coco Palms Resort and then The Prince Golf Course. In 1995, it moved to Smith’s Tropical Paradise after Wade Lord, a past president of the Kapaa Rotary, approached the Smith family.
“They were generous people and they had the perfect spot to host the event,” Margolis said. “But Freckles had concerns about the grounds getting trashed. Wade promised Freckles the club would leave the park in better shape than when the event started.”
Lord remembers how the club members lined up five cars with their headlights.
“Six of us roamed the park, inch by inch to pick up any possible debris,” Lord said. “At 11 p.m., Freckles drove up in his golf cart and said, ‘Enough already.’”