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Whenever I reminisce with friends about all the fun filled days and nights we spent on the Wildwood Boardwalk one image always stands out... the coconut head (most notably of the Aloha and Hawaiian Tropical Drinks shops). All were owned and operated by James Konides who created a wonderful "tiki" decor - from a ceiling laden with coconut fronds these fascinating, one-of-a-kind souvenirs dangled. Each coconut was hand carved and painted to reflect their own personality. Sometimes they were decorated with feathers and beads, but always with shells to create eyes, teeth and earrings.
 
The photo below comes from the George F. Boyer Museum in Wildwood and shows the Hawaiian Tropical Drinks once located at the Strand Theatre block.
 
 
   
The close-up below shows a group of coconut heads hanging behind the neon lighted milkshake sign.
 
 

In the 60's and 70's the coconut head was a staple Boardwalk souvenir and although they can still be found in some shops along the boards today, they don't quite stand up to the heads of ole. No longer will you find the menacing natives with twisted expressions or voodoo warriors from some dark continent. Today's coconut heads are usually pirates or monkeys and have a mass produced quality rather than a one-of-a-kind carving..

 
 
Shown below - coconut heads are visible behind the neon signage.
 
 
 
I often wonder how many of these enchanting souvenirs still hang in attics, garages and sheds across the country... long forgotten and covered in dust. If you happen to have one, I hope this page will inspire you to dig it out and dust it off. Feel free to photograph it and send it to me and I will add it to the coconut grove.
 

Be sure to check out the web site of Philippe Maestrati and behold his amazing collection of coconut carvings from around the globe... click below.

http://made.in.coconut.free.fr

 
A special thanks to my friend Eric Princz, who not only inspired me to create this page, but also to rummage through my attic to retrieve my childhood coconut head.

Copyright 2007 Ralph Grassi