Weaving Through Waimea

Waimea Christmas Light Parade is an evening of fun and entertainment for people of all ages.

Decorative holiday floats and community groups will make their way around historic Waimea town for the Waimea Christmas Light Parade, slated for Dec. 16.

The holidays hadn’t even begun yet when Esther Estes and Penny Young met with Kaua‘i Midweek at Hofgaard Park in the heart of Waimea town. Yet, they exuded the kind of warmth and cheer that’s associated with the season, and it didn’t hurt that they were wearing festive Santa hats and Christmas earrings. Therefore, it’s fitting that these lovely ladies are responsible for West Kaua‘i Business and Professional Association’s upcoming holiday celebrations — the Westside’s annual tree-lighting ceremony and 23rd annual Waimea Christmas Light Parade.

“It makes me feel good,” says Estes.

The Blond Boys rock the crowd at Hofgaard Park following a past Waimea Christmas Light Parade.

About 50 representatives participate in the Waimea Christmas Light Parade that features cleverly crafted floats, as well as appearances from organizations and groups around the island like Kaua‘i Pop Warner Football League and Pacific Missile Range Facility.

This year, the parade takes place Dec. 16 at about 6:15 p.m. (the highway closes from 5:30 to around 8 p.m.) and proceeds from the bridge on the east end of the historic town to West Kaua‘i Technology & Visitor Center.

State Rep. Daynette “Dee” Morikawa of Waimea will serve as grand marshal, and guests can expect family-friendly activities, including music, food and Zumba demonstrations.

All kinds of fun floats and participants are part of the annual Waimea Christmas Light Parade.

Estes, a now-retired Waimea resident, has devoted her time toward organizing the Westside parade since 2013. (Young also jumped on board to head the parade that year.) The grand procession, though smaller than Lights on Rice, is a way to bring the fun and fulfillment of the holidays to area residents who can’t make it to Līhu‘e for the Rice event.

Young, who resides in Līhu‘e but has an affinity for the Westside, agrees and says it’s a chance for families who live in towns like Kekaha and Waimea to experience seasonal festivities.

“Why can’t we have our own event here?” she ponders. “And I really believe in family and bringing happiness, and it starts from home. If we keep bringing these different events to them, they’ll grow up and hopefully raise their children to be like that.”

Young, who volunteers at Wilcox Elementary, also is responsible for producing the tree-lighting ceremony which happens Nov. 30, and is the official start to the Westside’s holiday season. Festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. at Hofgaard Park, and the tree, as well as the entire town, will light up after the sun sets.

Esther Estes and Penny Young are the West Kaua‘i Business and Professional Association duo responsible for bringing holiday cheer to the Westside. MATT FEESER PHOTO

Special this year is a focus on promoting keiki literacy. Lovable childhood characters will make appearances leading up to the ceremony, and Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. will do a special reading from the Moana story book.

“Young and old, they love Mickey and Minnie. They want to be in the photo ops,” says Young.

Businesses and residents will also participate in a Christmas décor contest, and a prize will be given to the location that best exemplifies holiday cheer. Also included in the evening’s celebrations will be performances by Waimea High School’s band and a lighted golf cart train.

Hualani Duncan, one of the announcers for Waimea Christmas Light Parade, also serves on the West Kaua‘i Business and Professional Association’s parade planning group.

Young and Estes are both active members of West Kaua‘i Business and Professional Association and participate in several year-round activities that promote the well-being of Kaua‘i’s Westside community. The organization’s members — about 75 in total — come from businesses around the island. They join together to perpetuate historical sites like Pā‘ula‘ula (Russian Fort Elizabeth Historical State Park) and beautify local parks. Their latest venture was a project at Hofgaard Park, where the group installed a welcome wall and performance stage with new seating for Music in the Park events.

West Kaua‘i Business and Professional Association also hosts major fund-raisers throughout the year, including the decades-old Waimea Town Celebration in February. Young and Estes are proud to be a part of these events that serve the often-underrepresented Westside. But what they look forward to most each year is kicking off the holidays and bringing cheer to as many families as possible. And if their already-present festive spirit is any indication of the merriment that will be present at the upcoming celebrations, then Waimea is in for a real treat.

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