The luau dinner was prepared by Mor-Q Barbecue and Smokehouse. Photos by Robert Gay

Early May saw the return of a playful Patagonia tradition, the KPUP aloha shirt sale and community luau. Shirts, both donated and collected, lined the sidewalk at Global Arts, curated and enthusiastically hawked by Jan Herron. A twist this year was opening the sale, nine days before the luau, with a choice selection of higher-end shirts with the Tommy Bahama label at $25, compared to the regular $10 price of the others. 

The first few days of the sale were “a feeding frenzy,” according to Herron, who felt the throngs of customers were a result of the easing of COVID-19 requirements, with people coming out of confinement and eager to shop and interact again. 

Stock got depleted, so they closed the sale for a few days to rebuild inventory for a second round of selling, also very successful.

On Luau day, the temperature and lightest of breezes were perfect for outdoor partying under the Library’s canopy of mesquites. Aloha wear, plastic leis and other tropical ornaments helped set a relaxed and festive mood for the 80 or so partiers. The band, a group called Amosphere from Tucson, blended quiet rock and funk with a rhythmic drive that moved people from toe-tapping to dancing. 

Guests at the luau enjoyed dinner and dancing outside Cady Hall.

In Patagonia’s version of aloha style, the grassy dance floor was graced with both cowboy boots and bare feet. Masterfully cooked meat was served by Michael Moreno of Mor-Q Barbecue and Smokehouse, joined by side dishes and cake by the Stage Stop Inn’s Wildhorse Restaurant.

KPUP, the Town’s radio station was the beneficiary of this event. The shirt sale brought in more than $6,000, according to Herron, the most it has ever made. Mark Nicholson, who runs KPUP, reported that the event raised a total of $7,000, which will cover most of KPUP’s operating expenses for the year. 

“We are very fortunate to have Jan Herron do this for us each year. Her efforts have taken the pressure off of us to raise funds and allowed us to focus on running the station,” Nicholson said. “We’re also very appreciative of how generous people are at the luau.”