Hula on the hill

  • Walter Hinick , Montana Standard

"When I first found out about the Cool Water Hula (in 2000), I thought it was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard of," says Tom Malloy, a tall, brawny ex-football player who now works as reclamation manager for the Butte-Silver Bow County Planning Department. "This time, I’m gonna dance in it."

The Cool Water Hula was conceived, choreographed and organized by Kristi Hager, a Missoula-based artist. As with the original performance in 2000, the dance calls attention to the billions of gallons of highly acidic, metal-laden water contained in the Berkeley Pit near uptown Butte. "Our intention," says Hager, "is to bring a bit of humor and good will to the ongoing cleanup efforts" at one of the nation’s largest Superfund sites.

And so, on July 10, Malloy wrapped a cerulean-colored sarong over his shorts and lined up with nearly 200 other hula dancers. As guitarists and ukulele players strummed Bob Nolan’s classic Western song, "Cool Water," the dancers, hips swaying and hands flowing gracefully, sang: "All day I face the barren waste without the taste of water, cool water ... "

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