The Garden Island - - Morning Briefing -


He played at Coco Palms un­til it was dam­aged by Hur­ri­cane Iniki in 1992 and never re­opened. When he sings of the re­sort and his time there, it comes from the heart.

The birth­day cake that comes out later that evening reads, “Happy Birth­day, Mr. Coco Palms.’”

“Beau­ti­ful Coco Palms, where I want to be,” he sings. “Aloha is the spirit of beau­ti­ful Coco Palms.”

When he sings “Some­where Over the Rain­bow,” with Lurline on key­boards and vo­cals, ev­ery­one joins in. It is Larry Rivera at his best. Warm, witty, friendly and sharp. Even on his last day of be­ing 86 he is quick, smart and bright. He con­nects with people.

Rivera, one of the is­land’s Liv­ing Trea­sures, still com­mands the spot­light.

“I wish I had hula dancers here,” he says, looking out at his daugh­ter and grand­daugh­ters stand­ing in the back. “Please, for my birth­day, come.” They do. Within a minute he and Lurline are play­ing “Wa­ialeale” while oth­ers in the Rivera ohana dance grace­fully, beau­ti­fully.

Rivera started at Coco Palms in 1951. He was a dish­washer, bus­boy, bell­hop, waiter, bar­tender and manned the front desk. Even­tu­ally, he turned singer, per­former.

He was a nat­u­ral and he be­came pop­u­lar with tourists stay­ing at the iconic ho­tel made fa­mous by Grace Gus­lan­der.

He re­called mak­ing good tips, $5 an hour. But more im­por­tant than money for

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