Bill and Kathy Cady spent their honeymoon in Hawaii 32 years ago, and the island chain has held a special place in the Lompoc couple’s relationship ever since.

The Cadys have returned to the 50th state almost every year since that first trip together and started planning last year for a special visit this month to celebrate Bill's 80th birthday. When the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out those plans, the couple decided to settle for a quiet evening of relaxation over mai tai cocktails.

Their family and friends had other ideas.

Bill said he was left "flabbergasted" Monday after a few dozen of his friends joined together to deliver a slice of Hawaii to the Cady’s Vandenberg Village home.

The surprise celebration included a tarp on the Cady’s front lawn with beach sand, Hawaiian music, surfboards and tropical beverages. After Bill realized what was going on, a pair of young girls performed a hula dance routine as a parade of cars passed in front of his home to offer well-wishes and drop off cards.

“I don’t know who arranged all this, but it’s just unbelievable,” said Bill, who up until a few months ago thought he’d be spending the evening of May 18 at a luau on the famed Poipu Beach. “It’s hard to believe all these people came over here.”

Many of the attendees were fellow members of the Vandenberg Village Lions Club, of which Bill became a charter member in 1981. The Air Force veteran is also a member of the Lompoc Foursquare Church, as well as a longtime supporter and honorary board member of the North County Rape Crisis and Child Protection Center.

Ann McCarty, the executive director of the Rape Crisis Center, said she was proud to have helped bring a bit of Hawaii to the Cady home.

“He’s such a special guy and he does so much and they’re both [Bill and Kathy] so philanthropic and are just good people,” she said. “He deserved it.”

Friends from across the community were among the attendees, but Bill and Kathy were most surprised to see their two adult offspring, who traveled with their families from Visalia to join the celebration.  

“This is definitely a special birthday,” said Kathy, who knew about the surprise party but not about their children showing up. “It’s a memorable one.”

While not as significant as the health crisis that washed out this year’s trip, the couple’s stay-at-home birthday plans also faced some obstacles.

Bill noted they were unable to find mai tai mix anywhere in Lompoc, so the couple drove to Santa Maria on Monday morning to stock up for what Bill figured would be a slow day around the house.

“So we finally get home and have a mai tai, and then all of a sudden [Kathy] said we have to move outside,” Bill said, while still sitting in his lawn chair sipping from a coconut as guests offered brief alohas. “And then cars started driving around and I was thinking, ‘What the heck is going on?’ I’m just flabbergasted.”

The series “Our neighbors: Living through a pandemic” is a collection of short vignettes highlighting the struggle and the hope of residents quarantined on the Central Coast. Through their stories it becomes clear that we really are facing the coronavirus together.



Willis Jacobson covers news and other issues, primarily those that affect the Lompoc Valley and Vandenberg Air Force Base for the Lompoc Record. He is a graduate of The University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications.