Luau to raise funds to support Grand Blanc parks and recreation

GRAND BLANC TWP. — The Grand Blanc Parks and Recreation Department is offering a unique opportunity for some summertime le’ale’a with hoa aloha. (That’s Hawaiian for “fun” with “friends.”)

Planning for the first ever Luau fundraiser is in full swing and event organizers are excited to offer some great fun complete with fire dancers, a tiki bar, and a pig roast.

“This will be our principal fundraiser for the year,” said Senja Liimatta, assistant parks and recreation director.

Roughly 80 percent of the parks department’s revenue comes from programming, donations and rentals, Liimatta said.

“Obviously, we lost a lot of that during COVID, especially since we haven’t been able to use the school facilities, which is where we had many of our programs. So, this (luau) is extremely important for us. We have a lot of revenue to make up.”

The le’ale’a begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday, July 16, at the south pavilion at Bicentennial Park. Tickets cost $30 per person. Tickets are available online at Those attending in a large group should notify the parks department to ensure seating together at a private table.

Smokin’ Hog BBQ is catering the event, providing a pig roast, chicken, macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, corn and Hawaiian rolls. Dinner is included in the ticket price.

Ticketholders also will receive two drink tickets for the tiki bar. The bar will be open all night serving specialty luau-themed cocktails, keg beer, wine and hard seltzers.

There will be lawn games and raffles throughout the evening.

The Polynesian Dancers of Michigan will perform a hula show and fire dance beginning at 9:30 p.m.

Liimatta said the idea of the luau came up during a brainstorming session and developed organically from there.

“We were talking about something fun to do in the summer to help bring in some funds,” she said. “We wanted to do something at the park, that was our goal, something outdoors, something open-air. We didn’t know what the COVID guidelines would be, so being outside was most important.

“We were talking and got the idea of a luau, then we stumbled upon the Polynesian Dancers of Michigan. When we found them, we thought that would be a great performance option to add, and we ran with it from there and just kept designing it, bringing in different elements.”

The event also has drawn support from sponsors, who include Rhoads & Johnson and Cooper Commercial (dinner sponsor), Sweetwater Bar & Grill (tiki bar), Fessler & Bowman (performance), Blessing Co., Dort Financial Credit Union, Grand Blanc McDonald’s, the Peters family, Scott Bennett and Dave Robertson.