|Seniors entertain tourists and residents alike in Waikiki|
If you are aiming for a Waikiki experience that will take you back in time to those good old days, stop on the beach side of Kalakaua Avenue on Oahu in Hawaii, sit down on a bench under a covered umbrella and become part of a local community who brings the best of Hawaii to visitors no matter who they are. Travel back in time with the seniors who will take you on a magic journey of paradise as it was and still is in the songs that light up the islands with their bright melodies.
In Hawaii the seniors have traditions they share with tourists. You can never predict for sure when a gathering of these special people will arrive and entertain, who bring their ukeleles, music and traditions to this place in Waikiki. The weekends bring the folks in for the authentic play of paradise you just don't want to miss on any visit to the Oahu beaches of Waikiki.
Having lived in Hawaii for many years, I have learned how meaningful these gatherings are to local folk and those who return for the visits after they have left. It is here where through the songs and stories on these benches in the sun that people learn about Hawaii from these elders while they reminisce.
Sit down at a table, as people make room for friends and strangers alike, and share Hawaiian aloha in that old-fashioned way. It begins with a man with a ukelele singing a Don Ho song. The strains of Pearly Shells brings a chorus of voices, along with a band of ukeles. This is the place where people can perform for others and enjoy the applause just like those good old days. Folks retired now spontaneously entertain each other and the tourists that gather round and applaud the talents of the old folks, whose energy often can outpace the very young entertainers who play in the bars and restaurants of Waikiki.
The gathering place for these wonderful occasions take place are on Kalakaua Avenue, a short walk from any direction from the main tourist hotels. A large sheltered area sits apart from all the rest. You recognize the older people with their gaily floral clothes. The old-timers dress the way you would expect them to on a sunny day in Hawaii, especially since it's a time they entertain each other and entertain you too.
They come from every ethnic group, these elders of Hawaii. They will swap stories with you, teach you a song or two or just ask you to sit down and listen and enjoy the moment as part of a crowd that gathers there in Waikiki on almost any afternoon.
These elders sing of old Hawaii, but mostly songs that are referred to as hapa-Haole, that is Hawaiian music with English words so you will know the words. You'll almost always hear a famous song of Kui Lee, who died too young but contributed many songs that tourists often know. Elvis Presley performed some of Kui Lee's songs in that string of movies made in Hawaii. One of them is I'll Remember You, a perennial favorite of the group that gathers at these tables, reminiscing as they sing the song and tell you about this famous musician many remember well. That musician, Kui Lee, is the one who helped catapult Don Ho to fame.
Some of the elders are the beach boys, many who still sit on the beaches as they have done for decades, and who come and join the group. Their numbers are dwindling now, as the old-timers have died, aged too much or moved away over the years. But the ones who still come to these magic moments on the beach bring all those stories of Hawaii, of the days of sprawling beaches before all the hotels were built and of cruise ships that brought people from afar.
This simple way of enjoying the aloha spirit is an authentic way to meet Hawaii in all its special ways. Here is the famous Waikiki beach where swimming and sunning takes place. Here is where the surfers take their boards and vanish into waves to the rhythm of the sea and winds that only they seem to hear. The palm trees, sand, and sunshine mix with the old music, hulas, and
brightly dressed elders of every race. That vision of the best in relationships is the best of a tourist experience, that local folks enjoy as well, and an ongoing symbol of why Hawaii is called the Gathering Place, as it is the place that symbolizes man's ultimate human gifts