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--- Issued July 9, 2009

The sights and sounds of Hawaii abounded in the Friendship Apartments Community Room recently with this year's Annual High Rise Summer Celebration picnic, featuring a Polynesian flavor as well as a new location.

Since its inception, this has always been a picnic featuring classic American picnic food and entertainment by professional singers. This year, picnic goers knew they were in for something new the moment they entered the luau. Everybody was welcomed with a lei, the traditional Hawaiian greeting, as they arrived.

The Community Room was transformed into a little slice of paradise. It was decorated in a Polynesian theme. Many of these decorations were made by residents of Friendship Apartments.

Shortly after arriving, the residents were treated to an exhibition of hula dancing. Many of these dancers were residents. Others were staff from the Housing Authority and the HomePLUS Program. For weeks, residents and staff had been learning and practicing several dances. At the picnic, it was time to show what they learned. Accompanied by their instructors, the “Housing Authority Hula Dancers” got to show their talents as they hula danced through the picnickers.

After the dancing, it was time to eat. Traditional luaus feature pit cooked roast pig and poi. This picnic featured classic American cook-out food including hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad and baked beans. Staff assisted those who were unable to go through the food line. After everybody went through once, they were able to return for as many trips as the food held out.

More entertainment followed lunch. Linda Lee and Dennis Casey have been favorite performer in the past. Their performances feature many well-known songs as well as interactive segments. This year was no different. Linda took the microphone into the audience several times and had residents sing.

After several years in Schmid Towers, the picnic was held in the Community Room and grounds of Friendship Apartments. The move provided an increased area for picnic goers as well as a more organized set-up for the volunteer staff. As always, EMTA busses provided transportation for residents of Schmid Towers, Curry Shell Apartments and Ostrow Apartments.