KAANAPALI - Kaanapali Beach Hotel's Kanahele Room became Little Russia on Sunday, May 5. A surprise 90th birthday party for retired Lahaina physician Helen Percy featured traditional Russian music, dance, costumes and food.
Dr. Percy was born in Atlanta, GA, to Russian parents fleeing the Revolution. She spoke only Russian until age five and remains fluent in the language.
Despite having traveled all over the world, from Sweden to Japan, she never made it to Russia.
Members of the Russian song/dance troupe Barynya serenade retired Lahaina physician Helen Percy at her 90th birthday party. PHOTO BY GRAHAM M. WATSON.
"So we thought on this special occasion, we'd bring Russia to her," said her daughter, Lahaina attorney Valentina Stewart Watson.
At the heart of the event was New York-based Barynya, performing traditional music and dance in traditional handmade costumes.
The company played as she entered, presented an hour-long medley on stage, then played and sang Dr. Percy's requests.
The hotel laid on Russian food from recipes provided by Watson, and the room itself was decked out with Russian tapestries and a slideshow of old-style Russian people and landscapes.
Ninety guests attended, some of whom flew in from the Mainland for the occasion, including friends, family, former patients and former colleagues.
Dr. Percy came to Maui in 1968, was with Maui Medical Group for 43 years, and on her retirement in September 2011 she was the oldest practicing physician on Maui.