A shaka for 2017

KALAPAKI — Jeff Haigh put his own twist on a Hawaiian “Happy New Year” Saturday in a sand sculpture at Kalapaki Beach.

He added a “shaka” to the traditional “Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou.”

“I wanted to come up with a term … that I wouldn’t have to explain to everyone,” said the Auburn, California, resident who has created a number of sand sculptures at Kalapaki over the years. “I thought I would come up with ‘shaka’ because everyone knows that, and I don’t have to explain it.”

Norm Owen of Berkeley, California, said Haigh doesn’t really have a plan for these sculptures — he just does them.

“He might have an idea in his head before he starts,” Owen said. “But then, he just goes ahead and does it.”

Haigh said his wife Cindy did most of the work, moving around approximately four tons of sand by hand.

“She’s the one who did the work,” Haigh said. “She moved around the sand about three days ago because she likes doing this for the workout. But then, some kids found the pile and did a happy dance. I guess you can’t do this too much in advance.”

The sculpture celebrating the new year is the third created by Haigh this year, each one capturing the attention of people enjoying the sunny weather at Kalapaki Beach.

“The first was a ‘Naughty and Nice’ piece similar to the Ten Commandments,” Haigh said. “Then there was the Christmas piece which was here when Santa arrived on the outrigger canoe. And this one for New Year’s.”

Owen said Haigh travels to create sand sculptures since Auburn, a town at the base of the Sierra Nevada, isn’t exactly known for its beaches.

“He can do that,” Owen said. “He’s retired. He and Cindy both travel all over just to do sand sculptures on the different beaches. On Friday, they had a sand castle contest to see who could come up with the best piece in 20 minutes. We have some that are still standing.”

Owen said they asked Haigh to participate in the annual Hanalei contest, held each summer.

“He told us it was too hot for him,” Owen said. “But he knows that the next Chinese New Year is the Rooster and he’s really excited about that because he has some ideas on what he wants to do. Unfortunately, he leaves on Jan. 20 and the Chinese Lunar New Year is Jan. 28. He might just do something before he leaves.”

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