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St. Pete woman honors husband through the power of hula

St. Pete woman honors husband through the power of hula WFTS ROBERT.png
Posted at 12:20 PM, Jul 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 16:30:13-04

ST. PETE, Fla. — From the grass skirt to the colorful lei to the flower in her hair, one St. Pete senior is trying to be as authentic as she can when it comes to the hula. It’s a tradition she holds dear to her heart when teaching others.

Some of 85-year-old Mary Ann Wilcox’s favorite memories were going to Hawaii with her husband, so when he passed away she decided to bring Hawaii to St. Pete.

St. Pete woman honors husband through the power of hula WFTS ROBERT.png

Wilcox remembers the first hula lesson she ever received while vacationing in Waikiki with her late husband Floyd back in 2005.

“She said you got to smile, otherwise you are going to sit on the bench, because Hawaiian dancers are supposed to be happy,” said Mary Ann.

Mary Ann has been smiling ever since. Hawaii became an annual vacation destination for her and Floyd.

“Well my husband did not dance hula but he certainly loved it,” said Mary Ann.

However, their last few trips had become bitter-sweet, Floyd was dying of cancer.

“I really think that being there extended his life because they gave him five years, he lived ten,” said Mary Ann.

When Floyd passed away in 2014 Mary Ann said she wouldn’t go back without him, but she would pass on the love of hula to friends and neighbors at the Sunshine Senior Center.

“Well it makes me very happy because I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and when I hear the giggles and the laughter and the fact that they had a good time that is my thank you, that I can spread the aloha spirit of happiness and joy,” said Mary Ann.

Mary Ann even supplies the flowery leis and the grass skirts, it’s more than a dance, it’s the story of the Hawaiin people.

“We talk about how the sun smiles and the trade winds sing a melody through the trees,” said Mary Ann.

She’s always looking for new dance partners to share in the magic.

“So I dance with the butcher at Publixs, I dance with the cashier at Winn-Dixie,” said Mary Ann.

She said she knows Floyd is looking down smiling from heaven.