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Seniors ‘boogie-woogie’ at Rock-a-Hula pool party

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Seniors jump into the pool to play with beach balls during the annual Rock-a-Hula held at the Verdugo Aquatic Center in Burbank on Thursday.
(Raul Roa/Burbank Leader)

For two hours on Thursday, the Verdugo Aquatic Facility in Burbank served as a Hawaiian getaway for area senior residents.

About 200 people flocked to the city’s pool to attend the sixth annual Rock-a-Hula, a free Hawaiian-themed party for those 55 years old and older.

Staff with the Parks and Recreation Department created positive island vibes — they handed out artificial flower leis, there were at least a dozen beach balls in the pool, a hula dance group performed, and the cherry on top was an Elvis Presley impersonator, complete with a live band, who belted out the King’s hits.

Burbank resident Coco Gonzalez was one of a handful of people who spent most of their time in the pool.

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Gonzalez has been to every Rock-a-Hula since its inception in 2014, and she said she comes back every year for the live music, the people and the water.

She added that this year’s event was much cooler than previous years as the temperature in Burbank that day hovered around 80 degrees with a slight breeze.

“Until they kick us out, I’ll be right here,” Gonzalez said as she waded through the pool surrounded by beach balls.

While Gonzalez and others soaked up the sun’s rays, most people, like Luis Ramirez, stayed dried and danced in their seats as Elvis and his band jammed out.

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Luz Camei, center, and the rest of the Na Kapua O Jocelyn dance group perform a Hawaiian dance for seniors in attendance at the annual Rock-a-Hula, held at the Verdugo Aquatic Center in Burbank on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

Although he lives in Los Feliz, Ramirez said he is a regular patron at the Joslyn Adult Center in Burbank. He added that he learned about the event while attending one of his classes at the center.

It was Ramirez’s first time attending the Rock-a-Hula, and he said the music and camaraderie were great.

“It’s a good opportunity to create friendships with people of our age,” he said. “They are the only people that understand our feelings when we’re at this age.”

Barring any health issues, Ramirez said he will definitely attend the event again.

The seniors who attend the annual event have City Councilman Bob Frutos to thank for bringing a slice of Hawaii to Burbank.

Frutos said he created Rock-a-Hula as a way to give back to the older members of the community and at the same time help promote the aquatic facility, which was opened in 2013.

As an Elvis aficionado, Frutos said he got the idea for a hula-themed party from Elvis’ movie “Blue Hawaii.”

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“We needed to do something as a symbol to show our senior-citizen community how valuable they are to us and how this facility could be one more tool for them to be active and engaged,” Frutos said.

He added that seeing the seniors “boogie-woogie” as Elvis’ cover band plays each year is what makes Burbank special.

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