A late, legendary Hawaii entertainer was honored in Waikiki this weekend.
During his residency at Duke Kahanamoku’s lounge at International Market Place in the 1960s, Don Ho drew crowds with a show that highlighted his laid-back, affable personality.
Now a custom bronze statue of Ho commemorates where his career began.
On Sunday, which would have been Ho’s 87th birthday, family, friends, and fans gathered under the iconic banyan tree at International Market Place for the statue’s unveiling.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 300-pound bronze sculpture was designed by Oahu-based artist Kim Duffett, who conducted substantial research on Ho’s life, gathered historic photos and talked story with the singer’s family members and countless friends to gain inspiration.
“I wanted to create a signature performance pose as if Don was beckoning someone in the audience to join him on stage, as he often did,” said Duffett.
Ho’s family had input on the sculpture as well.
“At the end of the day, it’s just so wonderful that not just family, but the community and nationally, everybody can celebrate him, and so there’s a place for them to come see him, and his presence is back in Waikiki. That’s just exhilarating to see him back here,” said Ho’s wife, Haumea Ho.
“We wanted to celebrate the history of the land and its people, and of course the musical heritage, and who better than Don Ho to really celebrate that music, so we wanted him in a prominent position under the majestic banyan tree right from the very beginning,” said Ron Loch, International Marketplace vice president of planning and design.
Ho scored a worldwide hit with “Tiny Bubbles,” earning him a national recording contract and an assemblage of best-selling albums, television appearances and his own namesake network variety series.
According to his wife, Ho would probably say the statue “Ain’t No Big Thing,” but he’d be very happy with its larger-than-life stature. (Ho was 5-foot-9.)