Maggie Crisp, Jennifer Gao and Anna Yang were among the more than 200 smiling faces at the Senior Clubs Valentine’s Day Dance Friday at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center.
“Jennifer and her 13-year-old nephew Peter Ji are stuck here,” Crisp said. “They can’t go home.”
Gao, a guest of Crisp and Yang of the Kekaha Seniors, was one among many at the “Let the Good Times Roll” Valentine’s Day party presented by the county’s Department of Parks &Recreation and Na Kupuna Council for the Kaua‘i senior centers from Kilauea to Kekaha.
The trio was joined by Dorothy Higuchi, who is celebrating her 100th birthday sometime in February and Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami. He was busy serving refreshments with the Waimea High School Interact Club before being pulled onto the dance floor by kupuna anxious to dance with the mayor.
U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands sailors and civilians, including Sara Trujillo, who was spending her final Valentine’s Day gig with the PMRF crew before transferring to an O‘ahu post, were joined by Ricky and Joyce Davis, who were celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary.
“We got married on this day with 10 other people in Taiwan,” Ricky Davis said. “Does this mean our anniversary was yesterday? This photo taken today is a great memento. I have proof we’re married.”
Music provided by the Kalaheo Seniors Music ‘Ohana filled the dance cards that included the grace and flow by some Kaua‘i Ballroom Dance Club dancers, as Crisp and Gao prepared to leave for the St. Theresa School luncheon as Mitch Ouye and the Sunset Swing Band readied to take over the music stage.
Gao and her nephew, both visiting from China, are not able to get home because there are no flights into China until April, Crisp said.
“American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines all canceled flights. They’re stuck here,” she said. “They came to visit their friend, Anna Yang, who lives in the Kekaha Senior Housing project. At first, they could fly into South Korea and, from there, back to China.”
That opportunity disappeared, and so did their accommodations.
“The Kekaha housing has a restriction where guests are allowed up to two weeks,” Crisp said. “Now, they’re staying with me until they can find a way home.”
Originally, Gao, a resident from Beijing, China, came through on her way to attend a conference in New York. Her nephew Peter, a resident of the Tangshin province, was on the trip to learn conversational English before the school he attended opened.
Gao has since enrolled Peter as a temporary student at St. Theresa School to supplement lessons he’s been receiving from his school in China.
Her husband, Sunh Cheng, is “having a blast” back home in Beijing, Gao said.
“He’s been able to try all the iced tea recipes he knows,” she said. “His mother has been cooking for him, but has to leave the food at the house gate because they can’t make contact.”
Kawakami and PMRF Chief Michael Bolyard agreed — “You could be stuck somewhere else. You’re just stuck in the best place you can be.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.