The following appeared in TurkeyTALK – The Chicago Festival Association's Quarterly Newsletter, May 2009, pages 2 & 8-9

The following lead-in paragraph
to the article appeared in the index on page 2 ...

 Behind the Scenes with The Barefoot Hawaiians

For the past 10 years, no matter the weather, paradise has come to Chicago in the form of hula dancers, fire dancers and musicians known as The Barefoot Hawaiians. We sit down with director Gwen Kennedy and discuss the group’s exciting performances each year.

Following is the article appearing on pages 8-9 ...

Behind the Scenes with
The Barefoot Hawaiians 

Photo by Steve Horne

There have been many wonderful groups that have participated in the McDonald’s® Thanksgiving Parade over the years. Recently, Turkey Talk sat down with long time parade participants The Barefoot Hawaiians from Des Plaines, IL. Turkey Talk spoke with Gwen Kennedy, director of the Barefoot Hawaiians.

Photo by Lawrence Ware

The lovely Barefoot Hawaiian Hula Dancers make theirs way down State Street in 2008.

Turkey Talk: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Gwen. Tell me a litle about your group.

Barefoot Hawaiians: We were established in 1983. Providing Hawaiian entertainment to Chicago and beyond, the company has had the opportunity to perform at over 600 shows per year. Our group presents Hula Dancers, Fire Dancers and Polynesian Musicians representing Hawaii here on the mainland. We are happy to be the chosen entertainment every weekend at The Tiki Terrace Restaurant in Des Plaines.

TT: How long has your group been involved with the parade, and, how did you first get involved with the event?

BH: We have been a part of the parade for 10 years now. We were first asked to participate by committee members who saw our performance and thought it would be a unique addition to the lineup.

Photo by Steve Horne

The younger Barefoot Hawaiians wave to the camera at the 2008 parade.

TT: What do you like best about the parade?

BH: We love the crowd response to our group, especially when they see our fire dancers! And, we also enjoy bringing paradise to a very cold November day in Chicago!

TT: Are you all really barefoot during the parade? Is there any special training that your group does to deal with the elements parade morning?

BH: The only members of our group who are brave enough to “go barefoot” are our courageous fire dancers! I think that is what people look for. The rest of us simply don our shoes and hula down the street! No special training is required, just shake the hips and wear multiple layers.

TT: Tell us how you put together those fabulous routines we see parade morning.

BH: Preparing for the parades, we choose Hawaiian songs that have a holiday theme. In our small studios, all the dancers work in unison to present the hula to Chicago. The fire dancers simply prepare by purchasing enough fuel. Their performance is choreographed on the spot - when and where the winds don’t blow as fiercely.

TT: How do you handle the possibility of cold weather?

BH: By now, we have learned to expect the coldest day ever! 4 years ago, when it was very cold, we loaded up on the heat packs. Our real orchid leis from Hawaii, so nicely draped around our scarves, froze solid! But alas - our fire dancers still took off their shirts!

TT: Thank you Gwen, as well as in The Barefoot Hawaiians for being such long time participants. You can tell that each of you truly enjoy bringing smiles and lasting holiday memories to millions on Thanksgiving morning.

Download the complete 11-page May 2009 edition of TurkeyTALK below.
May 2009 Publication of TurkeyTALK  (2,550K)