Fans Come to Maui Marathon to Hear Us Play

What a memorable weekend we had performing for our 7th year at the 45th Annual Maui Marathon in Kaanapali! According to a radio announcement, the Maui Marathon is the oldest marathon west of the Rockies, and the 7th most popular in the world. New this year, The Hawaiian Serenaders performed just twice in two days at the Westin Kaanapali Hotel, stayed one night at Kaanapali Beach Hotel, and did not perform at the Finish Line on Sunday. We loved our schedule and location of playing only indoors in an air conditioned ballroom as the weather had been so sweltering hot. Plus, we had fans!

Friend from our Maryland days

Friend from our Maryland days

On Friday, September 18, the Marathon’s Health & Fitness Expo ran from 12 noon-5 p.m., and we performed from 2:30 – 3:15 p.m. What a surprise as we were breaking down after our set and saw Aileen Wojick, a friend of a friend from Maryland. We had performed for her oldest daughter’s wedding when we lived in Maryland from 1994-2000. It turns out that Aileen’s youngest daughter who was 16-years-old at that time, recognized “our sound” as they walked by the ballroom. Aileen was in Maui caring for her 2 grandchildren as her now 30-something-year-old daughter and son-in-law ran in the marathon. What a small world and a testament to “our sound.”

Ukulele student also dances hula

Ukulele student also dances hula

On Saturday, September 19, the Expo ran from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and we performed from 12:30 – 1:15 p.m. We got there early after checking out of our hotel to see who was on stage before us. We had a couple of surprises:

Janet Rineer, one of my Advanced Ukulele students and member of the Maui Ukulele Pops Band, was there all spiffed up for a hula performance. It turns out she was there to dance with Aunty Doll’s halau on stage.

Aunty Doll is the mother of Pohai Dias, our contact for providing entertainment at the Maui Marathon. What a small world. Aunty Doll and I are Ahahui Ka’ahumanu sisters and both teach at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults 55 and better.

Fans from Montana came to hear us play

Fans from Montana came just to hear us play

During our set, we noticed a couple that watched us and hung around until we were done. It turns out that Kevin and Linda McCafferty from Montana watch my YouTube videos. While planning their vacation to Maui, they googled to see where we were playing, and thus came to see us at the Maui Marathon. How wonderful to have real fans! They also mentioned going to George Kahumoku’s slack key concert and to Amy Gilliom’s show in Wailea – what and honor to be mentioned in the same breadth as these headliners!

We enjoyed performing at the Maui Marathon, and look forward to returning next year. How rewarding to know “our sound” is recognizable through the years and that people will come to an event just to hear The Hawaiian Serenaders perform. Thank you to our fans!

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele


Mele Fong is a professional singer, song arranger, and master of multiple strumming styles for the 'ukulele. She is an experienced educator with over 50+ years experience playing the 'ukulele and entertaining worldwide. Mele performs with her husband in the duo "The Hawaiian Serenaders" and leads student groups. In 1996, the duo represented the State of Hawai'i in concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Mele and her husband Richard Tom were both born and raised on Oahu and now reside in Maui.