Monday, November 5, 2012

They Sure Know How To Throw A Party!

If you ever go to one of the larger hotels in Hawaii you will see that at least once or twice a week you can take part in a Luau, a Hawaiian-themed feast with entertainment.  This trip was no exception - the Marriott, where we were staying, had them on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but our mother-in-law Betty (shown at left) informed us we were to be guests of hers at the private Luau thrown by her Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) annual convention at the Hilton on Friday.  Betty has worked with the AAU for decades through the athletic department at the University of South Carolina, and Vicki and I have joined her in years past - both of us at San Diego in '96, and Vicki joined her solo for a different trip to Maui a few years later.  Betty told us last Spring that "she wasn't looking forward to ANOTHER trip to Hawaii", so we invited ourselves along to spice up her trip!  Plus Melinda and Shannon hadn't ever been there, so it was fun for all!
Of course, we were running a few minutes late, and arrived just as festivities were starting - Man, Ive never seen so many Hawaiian shirts and leis in my life in one spot!  And it was clear that the Hilton went all out in their staffing of these events.  At left is one of the "island girls" dressed and tattooed as a Maori woman, twirling her poi balls, at at right are two of the beefcake "natives" who ceremoniously dug out the roasted pig wrapped in banana leaves from the pit where it had cooked all day.  Now realize there were something like 350 people at this Luau, so that little porker wasn't enough to go 'round short of a fishes-and-loaves miracle, but there truly was a feast starting with a huge salad table with local specialties as well as more standard fare, and another entree table with vats of pig, mahi mahi, beef and chicken, rice, poi, veggies and a whole separate dessert table with nearly all combinations of banana, coconut, macadamia nuts and chocolate!  And with 2 included drinks/per person (Blue Hawaiians seemed the speciality), no one suffered any caloric shortages!
After the appropriate amount of time, where all 300+ were served pretty promptly, it was time for the official AAU program.  Its purpose was to induct 3 athletes into the AAU Legends Hall of Fame.  In this case, 3 heroes of mine from the first Olympics I remember in 1968 (Mexico City).  I well remember my watching them on TV and performing my own running and jumping and hurdling skills on our Iowa farm for days afterwards.  Present for their inductions were long jumper Bob Beamon (who still holds the Olympic long jump record after 44 years - the oldest modern day record!), Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the gold and bronze winning athletes in the 200 meter dash, best known for their raised black-gloved hand salute during the medal ceremony.  It was great seeing them and hearing them speak a little of their stories.
With business over, it was time for more ceremonial entertainment.  Led by a better than adequate crooner who served as master of ceremonies, narrator as well as singing some traditional songs, we had hula and other dance performances by both men, women and combinations, including numerous costume changes.  It was quite phenomenal!  The women seemed to have double-jointed hips - watching them made me dizzy!  While the hunky guys held my attention a little less than the women, the lead male did an outstanding job as "fire dancer" - shown at right here, he is also the lead fellow carrying the roast pig above!  And of course, like any stage performance, the men and women dancers roamed the audience to get "volunteers" to get up to the stage and embarrass.  A great time was had by all.
The Luau ended almost suddenly, and before we knew it, all the friends and associates were bidding each other farewell until the next conference.  Most were leaving the next day - Melinda and I in the late morning, our other family members later in the evening.   Our week flashed by, and it was great exploring the island with family that we see so rarely - it was fun to learn more about them while learning more about Hawaii.  I'm hoping we can travel with the family again - there is some talk of Mexico next year...

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