After a one-year hiatus due to issues with the pool, an annual summer tradition in Miami Springs returned on Friday night, Aug. 1 when the city hosted its Ninth Annual End of the Summer Pool Party and Hawaiian Luau.
Even though the turnout was disappointingly light, perhaps because of threatening skies which had been dumping puddles of rain on Miami Springs for the previous few days, the evening offered a host of pool activities geared to both children and adults, along with Polynesian dancers as volunteers who were busy cooking hamburgers and hot dogs to feed hungry mouths.
“It rained every day the entire month of July and here it was around 4 p.m., the skies turned black off to the west, so we feel blessed that the bad weather went in every direction but at us and the lightning alarm never went off, so we were able to hold the event,” said Parks and Recreation Department program supervisor and event coordinator Patti Bradley. “Maybe the Hawaiin gods were looking out for us tonight.”
As each guest arrived, he or she was greeted with a Hawaiian lei. The décor helped establish the proper ambiance for the Hawaiian Luau as many were seen in comfortable South Pacific attire. Most of the adults and kids enjoyed the show while standing in the pool.
And the entertainment was provided by the same group that has been doing it for the last six years, Polynesian Proud Productions, whose authentic island dancers are famous for their beautiful head dresses, grass skirts and hand tassels.
With PPP owner Talani Gagliano unable to attend, Rosanne Wong served as the hostess for the evening and her dancers were delighted to share a bit of Aloha spirit through song and dance on a journey to the South Pacific to savor their culture.
“This is so much fun for us,” said Wong. “We have been coming to Miami Springs for many years now and always enjoy coming back. It’s great showing the different cultures from different islands. A lot of people think that Tahiti and Hawaii are the same and they are not. It’s not just about entertainment, it’s about teaching the culture of the Polynesian Islands.”
The featured event of the evening came when 22-year-old Jesse Tavai, a native of American Samoa, took to the stage and dazzled everyone with his daring “fire dance” as he twirled a flaming baton around and even put out the flame.
“Here you go, second degree burns,” said Tavai, stretching out his left arm, when asked if he had ever burned himself. “There is a lot of practice that goes into this and we preach safety but sometimes the elements are unforgiving and we have incidents sometimes. I had a skin graph and was in the hospital for weeks but, hey, the show must go on and here I am.”
What really tugged hard at Bradley’s heart and why she was so disappointed with the light turnout was that, with the pool scheduled to be torn down to make way for a new aquatic facility, this year’s Luau marked the last at the current pool.
“I feel bad because two years ago we had around 500 people but we just didn’t get the turnout this time,” said Bradley. “I’m thinking the mere threat of bad weather kept people away this time plus maybe we had the one-year interruption of the event having not been able to do it last year because of the shutdown of the pool. This one was a little sentimental to us because with the new aquatic center on the way, this was the final one at this facility.”
With no city council members in attendance, it was left up to City Manager Ron Gorland to carry the torch and represent the city, and Gorland did just that as he and his family enjoyed the pool and the atmosphere.
“An annual tradition for quite a few years now and Patti does that same wonderful job every year,” said Gorland. “I’m a little surprised and disappointed at the light turnout, but I guess that’s what the threat of bad weather will do. Even so, everybody that’s here is still having a great time, including me and my family.”
For more information on Polynesian Proud Productions, they have a Facebook page. Just key up Polynesian Proud Productions or email firstname.lastname@example.org.