HANFORD — “Dreams come true in blue Hawaii,” King of Rock and Roll Elvis Presley sang in the hit film “Blue Hawaii” and the sentiment was echoed by the attendees of the annual Friendship Day Senior Luau.
Hosted by the Kings County Commission on Aging, hundreds of seniors gathered at the Hanford Civic Auditorium Friday morning for the popular celebration.
“I’m 80 years old so I try to make it [to KCCOA events] because I don’t know how many more I’ll be able to come to,” Deanna Toste said laughing. She added that she has many friends who also come to the events that she enjoys spending time with.
A life-long fan of Elvis, since he emerged on the music scene when she was a teenager, a highlight of the annual luau for Toste was the performance by impersonator Jeremy “Elvis” Pearce.
“I was teasing him because this Elvis has dimples and the real Elvis didn’t have dimples. So I got a kick out of that,” she said.
Toste has the distinction of having seen performances by Valley favorite Pearce and the actual King at a concert in Las Vegas in 1971, she said.
Pearce, who was named a Top-10 finalist in the 2010 Graceland Elvis Tribute Artist poll by fans, performed several of Elvis’ hits including “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Viva Las Vegas.”
“People ask me why I don’t move to Las Vegas. It’s because I have more girlfriends in Hanford than Las Vegas,” Pearce explained, resulting in laughter and approval from the crowd. “Besides, Vegas is too expensive. Here, I can take my dates to Superior Dairy.”
Senior women became teenagers instantly after receiving one of “The King’s” infamous scarves during the performance while other Elvis danced stood up and danced to the hits.
“I get calls all the time asking, ‘when is the party at the Civic,’ ‘when are we going to the Civic?’ “ KCCOA executive director Bobbie Wartson said about the popular event. “I’m seeing a lot of new faces, too.”
“I liked the show today,” said Darlene Thames, who was attending her first KCCOA event.
Seniors also performed karaoke at the event and were treated to lunch and refreshments.
It wasn’t all “Burning Love” and “Blue Suede Shoes,” though. The event had a little less action and a little more conversation.
The event served as a combination of the KCCOA’s popular Friendship Day celebration and Senior Abuse Awareness Day, which falls on June 15.
The day began with a presentation about the signs and dangers of senior abuse by Kings County District Attorney Keith Fagundes. Kings County Supervisors Joe Neves and Craig Pedersen were also in attendance, supporting the KCCOA.
The Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program (HICAP) also provided information on how to prevent and correct conditions in which dependent or elder adults are abused, neglected and exploited.