Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hawaii Legend Don Ho Mourned by Thousands

HONOLULU -- Thousands of people, some in electric wheelchairs and others in bikinis, gathered for a sunset memorial service on the beach at Waikiki for legendary Hawaiian crooner Don Ho.

As they have for decades, fans of different generations brought flowers and reminisced about the late entertainer's earlier years.

"I remember my mom would swoon every time she heard him sing. My dad would get so mad," said Rick Williams, of Visalia, California, who was wearing a T-shirt with Ho's unforgettable smile for the service Saturday. "Hawaii was two things back then: Don Ho and Pearl Harbor."

As many as 25,000 people were expected to attend, which city officials said would make it one of the largest crowds ever in Waikiki. The city arranged extra buses, parking and traffic control.

Ho, known for his catchy signature tune "Tiny Bubbles," died April 14 of heart failure at age 76.

At an earlier private ceremony on the grounds of the Sheraton Waikiki, guests included politicians, musicians and family members, all of whom where dressed in white, except for Ho's wife, Haumea, who wore a floral orange dress and a maile lei.

Some of his 10 children sang songs during the tearful ceremony. An Air Force honor guard presented a 21-gun salute and handed a U.S. flag to Ho's family. Ho had been a retired Air Force pilot.

After the ceremony, Ho's ashes were taken by a double-hulled canoe about a quarter mile off Waikiki and scattered. The canoe was accompanied by dozens of surfers and a flotilla of other canoes.

Following the private ceremony, several island entertainers were to perform, with one of Ho's songs, "I'll Remember You," sung by his daughter, Hoku, 25.

Fans converged on every open spot of sand in Waikiki. Waves gently rolled in as Ho's playful music could be heard coming from several outdoor bars.

Connie Algoflah flew in Thursday from Buckeye, Arizona, just to attend the memorial. She arrived at the balmy beach seven hours before the 5 p.m. tribute, to stake out a front-sand seat.

Algoflah, 43, said she had a huge crush on Ho and used to skip school as a teenager in Oklahoma to watch "The Don Ho Show."

Waikiki was special to Ho, the face and voice of Hawaii to the world for decades.

"Waikiki to me is like a magnet for the world," he said in a 2005 interview. "Waikiki is a beacon. It's like a shining light."

Ho had a breakout year in 1966, when appearances at the Coconut Grove in Hollywood helped him build a mainland following, and the release of "Tiny Bubbles" gave him his greatest recording success.

His other well-known songs include, "With All My Love," and the "Hawaiian Wedding Song."