Golden stars could be found everywhere Friday inside the Old Kona Airport Park’s Makaeo Events Pavilion. But the brightest ones were on stage, where they competed in the annual Big Island Senior Stars Talent Show.
Hosted by the Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation’s Elderly Recreation Services, the event featured 278 seniors representing 19 clubs. Many embraced the opportunity to shine through singing, dancing, acting and playing music. Besides bragging rights, they competed for prizes from area businesses, awarded to the top three places in both solo and group performances. Their lively, upbeat performances, often peppered with comedy, received enthusiastic applause.
Juan Barcelona crooned a touching rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings” and Penny Madamba twanged in true Conway Twitty style to two country tunes. Harry Cabrera, who won third place in the 2013 Kupuna Hula Festival’s Tutu Kane Division, got a lot of whistles and cheers from admirers as he danced to “Ka Nani O Kilauea.” Dressed as Uncle Sam, Dorothy Williams of the Pomaikai Senior Club got a lot of laughs when she stopped strumming her ukulele and ripped off her red and white striped pants, revealing hot pink shorts. Williams then sang and tap-danced to “Yankee Doodle Dandy” while twirling a baton.
The Ocean View Senior Club had most of the audience members swaying and tapping their toes in their seats while performing the “Beer Barrel Polka” and “Jambalaya” as the Last Fling Band. The Kohala Senior Club mesmerized while dancing with flowing butterfly-like wings. Meanwhile, it was evident who the real “Bad, Bad Girl” was in the Kamuela Kickers as the line dancing group made its first big turnaround. Somebody’s red and black tutu purposely didn’t cover everything, causing an uproar of laughter.
The Kailua-Kona Seniors Club did a tribute to “America’s Darling” Shirley Temple by singing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” as member Barbara Stiller, dressed as the dimpled, curly-haired child star, tap-danced and grinned her way into observers’ hearts. Prior to the club’s performance, member Roland Dupree revealed he was chosen for the role of Temple’s boyfriend in the film “Miss Annie Rooney.” He described Temple as lovely, dedicated and kind. Dupree recalled how he, then 16, forgot his line while filming a scene with him driving a car. He said Temple, 13 at the time, immediately took his hand and told him not to worry because they could do it again.
Elderly Recreation Services Program Director Kelly Hudik said the friendly competition spotlights “the incredible talent in our community” while also encouraging seniors to express themselves artistically and giving them the chance to socialize in a fun and positive way.
It’s one of the many events and programs the county has to ensure this population is not forgotten or discounted. The goal is to provide opportunities for seniors to be able to maintain a good quality of life and continue to be active members of society. Such activities also typically show how at the heart of aging gracefully is “an enthusiasm for life, laughter and some definite spunk,” Hudik said.
The Big Island Senior Stars Talent Show was funded by the seniors, all of whom pay $10 to participate. Besides performing and watching the show, they also enjoyed a lunch and prize giveaways.