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.|
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: