Cape Town – The start of the Cape Town Cycle Tour will never be the same again as the famous words “everybody say hoopla” won’t be heard from the mouth of “Mr Hoopla” himself.
Long-time race announcer of the Cape Town Cycle Tour, Paul de Groot, 78, affectionately known as Mr Hoopla, died in his sleep in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Each year the Cape Town Cycle Tour began with his famous Hoopla shout out.
Paul, who is survived by his widow, Pat, and two children, was also involved with charity work including the Rotary Club.
Paul and Pat would have celebrated their 50th anniversary next year.
Pat, 76, said Paul’s mind was always racing.
“He had always got some trick up his sleeve and was a great handyman. Something that will always stand out for me was the absolute need for him to be involved in charity work and the Cape Town Cycle Tour. It was a privilege to go through life with him,” she said.
Sponsors of the race, supermarket giant Pick n Pay, said: “Paul de Groot was a hero, a huge contributor to the community through Rotary International, and an institution when it came to starting the race with style.
“He will be missed by all, and everyone he touched through his commitment to the Cycle Tour.”
Chairman of the Pedal Power Association, Steve Hayward, said: “Paul was not only a founder member of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, but the voice which encouraged thousands of nervous cyclists each year to start the Cape Town Cycle Tour. Never will the start of a Cape Town Cycle Tour be the same again. We will always miss hearing your fantastic voice as MC, Paul.”
Director of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, David Bellairs described De Groot as a mentor.
“It is so incredibly difficult to sum up all of the amazing work that Paul undertook in his lifetime. He is without question one of the kindest and most humble people I have even had the privilege of having met in my life.
“His legacy will live on in all the amazing work he was involved in and through the thousands of people he touched with his work,” said Bellairs, who will miss De Groot’s iconic cry of “everybody say hoopla” at the start of the Cape Town Cycle Tour .
“Paul lived life epitomising the Rotary motto ‘Service Above Self’. He dedicated most of his life in the service of those less fortunate than himself through his dedicated service with Rotary. Having worked together over 30 years we formed a good friendship,” he added.
Funeral arrangements have not been finalised.