Holiday Festivities Draw Crowds
Kaua’i’s Festival of Lights at the Historic County Building is one of many similar events around the islands of Hawaii. This year’s festival, opened by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Dec. 2, marks the 15th year of this holiday celebration. The Lights on Rice Parade, music, art, decorations and a host of other activities have all become part of this event, which attracts many people to the color and pageantry of Christmas, Kaua’istyle. The festival is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m. until Christmas Eve.
The Festival of Lights is organized by Elizabeth Freeman and a team of volunteers, and sponsored by the County of Kaua’i, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Friends of the Festival of Lights and Ace Hardware.
Other celebrations include Honolulu City Lights, where thousands of people packed the front lawn of City Hall and lined King Street Dec. 3 for the annual tree lighting and Public Workers Electric Light Parade, which has delighted young and old alike for 27 years.
Two weeks earlier, folks on the Windward side enjoyed their own City Lights festivities in downtown Kaneohe, while on Dec. 10, residents of West Oahu celebrated Kapolei City Lights with a tree-lighting ceremony and parade.
City Lights has grown and evolved since it was created by Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi nearly 30 years ago. His successor, Mayor Jeremy Harris, expanded the event to Kapolei Hale in recognition of the growth of that region. And during my term in office, I created the Windward City Lights festivities to bring Christmas cheer to residents from Kailua to Kaneohe and beyond.
Today, thousands of people take in the tree-lighting ceremonies and parades, while thousands more, including busload after busload of excited children, will visit the displays of trees, wreaths and holiday decorations.
After so many years, Honolulu City Lights, Kaua’i’s Festival of Lights and other celebrations have become must-sees for residents and another reason to visit for many travelers. Among those attending the tree-lighting and parade, or strolling through public buildings for the tree and wreath displays, are visitors from all over the world, many of whom make special plans to enjoy the spectacle of an island-style Christmas celebration.
Having met and spoken to a great many of them during my time as mayor, I know how much they enjoy what we have to offer. They come from all over the Mainland, Japan and elsewhere, many of them surprised to see that we have one of the best celebrations around. In my capacity with the hotel industry, I hear how our holiday attractions draw visitors to our shores at this time of year.
The holidays are a time of gratitude, and I used the annual City Lights celebrations as opportunities to show our appreciation to those who uplifted and inspired us. Joining my wife Gail and me onstage for the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas trees have been the late Mayor Fasi and wife Joyce, U.S. Sen. and Mrs. Dan Inouye, the late Chief of Police Michael Nakamura, University of Hawaii’s Sugar Bowl football team, the late City Council Chairwoman Barbara Marshall, veterans of the Iraq conflict and others. It was a first-time experience for Inouye, while Fasi told me it was the first time he had been part of the ceremony since leaving office.
Christmas is my favorite time of year because of festivities like these. It’s a time of giving and sharing, and I take so much joy in seeing the looks on the faces of family especially the children, friends and strangers alike as they celebrate Christmas and all that it represents.
MUFI’S VISITOR HEROES
Position: Receiving Clerk
Location: Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
Wayne Chow is known as the “master of the little things.”
This receiving clerk at Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas never fails to make guests and coworkers alike feel very special. Although his work is termed “back of the house,” Wayne greets every guest, asks if they need anything and goes out of his way to make their stays enjoyable. He’s quick to help without asking whenever his associates are pressed, never hesitating to take the extra step to save others time.
Wayne volunteers to help with every community event the Westin Princeville hosts, and is always the first to arrive and last to leave. At a recent picnic, Wayne and a coworker did all the packing and cooking when an emergency found them shorthanded, and they were credited with saving the day.