Friday, June 12, 2015

Meet Larry Rivera....

A considerable number  of movies filmed have been filmed on Kauai - Jurassic Park, Tropic Thunder, South Pacific, just to name a few.  Since I'm somewhat of a movie buff, and since my Kauai trip was inspired by a childhood viewing of South Pacific, it was only appropriate to choose an island movie tour for the corny-tourist portion of my trip.

As we neared one of our last stops, the Coco Palms Hotel, the tour guide told us there was special surprise waiting for us there.

The Coco Palms has a long and fascinating history - from sacred ground owned by Hawaiian royalty, to popular hotel for the rich and famous, to a mismanaged venue abandoned after hurricane Iniki.  I had to sign a waiver to visit the place since its current state of disrepair poses some dangers.  Just to be able to walk there was special.

When we arrived, we were greeted by an older gentleman in a Hawaiian shirt carrying a ukulele.

Meet Larry Rivera, one of Kauai's treasures.  Larry worked for sixty-four years at the Coco Palms, announcing its famous torch-lighting ceremony (the original that was copied by the other island hotels) and performing his own songs nightly.  He appeared in Blue Hawaii with Elvis.  He is of Hawaiian, Spanish, and Filipino origin.  He has six children, seventeen grandchildren, eighteen great-grandchildren, and he can name ALL of them in under a minute.

Larry is still performing two shows weekly, plus stops at local markets and the Coco Palms.  In a former life, I sang professionally for over twenty years, so this really impressed me because HE IS EIGHTY-FIVE YEARS OLD!

You may not have heard of him, but I'd much rather be standing with Larry than Kanye.
Larry was warm, funny, and sweet as he told us his story and sang a song he wrote about Mount Waialeale.  Shrouded in clouds, this central peak is part of a blown out caldera.  Waialeale is one of the world’s wettest spots, streaming with waterfalls. It is also inaccessible. If yours truly wasn't so chicken (and cheap) when it comes to flying in a helicopter (the only way to see it), I might have been able to tell you about its beauty first hand.  But I felt that Larry's song, sung at the edge of a lagoon that's protected to this day by its rich Hawaiian history as a sacred spot, told me everything I needed to know about this magical place.

To hear this eighty-five year old patriarch sing with so much love for his island was truly the highlight of the tour.

Larry was a true inspiration.  I may take up singing again.

 See Larry singing at the lagoon on YouTube:


Jock Bethune said...

I have tears in my eyes as I watch your video of Larry. There is so much history with Larry, myself, my late wife Judy and many others who were and continue to be part of my Coco Palms family (ohana). I share here with you the celebration of my late wife Judy's life on the occasion of our 25th wedding anniversary August 1 2006. Larry put this celebration together! Larry Rivera is Kaua'i!!

M. D. Mascaro said...

Thank you so much, Jock. Seeing what Larry did for you - so touching. And, I feel, so typical of him. He is truly a sweet, dear, man. Such a blessing for the island and all who know him.