Ho, Don - beach-side memorial shaping into legendary event


The memorial service planned for Don Ho seems certain to add to the iconic entertainer's legendary status.

So far the May 5 event is slated to include flowers dropped from a helicopter, dozens of singers, dancers and musicians and canoes decorated in a 76-foot lei. That's one foot for each of Ho's 76 years at the time of his death April 14.

A short Christian and Hawaiian memorial service will be held starting at 5 p.m. on the beach in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. That service will be followed by a memorial celebration including a flotilla of boats to ferry Ho's ashes out to sea.

Longtime friends Cha Thompson and John De Fries will be the event's masters of ceremonies.

So many people have volunteered to perform at the celebration, the size of the stage normally used for Waikiki's Sunset on the Beach series needed to be expanded, De Fries said.

Imaikalani Young will lead the band backing up the many performers. But the massive number of volunteer musicians means Thompson's plan to allow all of them to perform needed to be scaled down, De Fries said.

There won't be a eulogy at the celebration. Instead memories of Ho will be interposed with song and dance.

The “celebration of the life and times of Don Ho will feature many of his very close friends in the entertainment industry, as well as members of his family,” De Fries said.

“This is not just a concert, if you will,” he said. “There's a level of reverence and dignity that needs to be present.”

The Waikiki Improvement Association is collecting donations to cover the city's costs for the event, he said.

Because thousands are expected to attend the memorial, the city plans to provide extra police officers and lifeguards during the event, said Isaac Hokama, special assistant to Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

The city's bus system will provide extra buses. But no road closures are expected unless the crowd size requires it, he said.

“Our main concern is public safety and traffic,” Hokama said.