‘Lights’ to shine Saturday

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kauai High School Academy of Hospitality and Tourism students Allyson Casasola and Bryden Ka‘auwai work on creating fish out of to-go containers at Santa’s Workshop Sunday for the Festival of Lights, opening Saturday in the Historic County Building in Lihue.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Carol Conley and Jaya Valiere prepare decorated Christmas trees in the lobby of the Historic County Building in Lihue Sunday in preparation for the opening of the Festival of Lights Saturday.

What are we doing with the extra week between Thanksgiving and the first week of December?

Elizabeth Freeman of the Festival of Lights announced the free lighting exhibit will open to the public 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday in the lobby of the Historic County Building. The event will also continue 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday.

“Did you see the amount of people who were here during the last Christmas Eve?” Freeman said. “If we follow the calendar, that would mean so many people who want to visit the folk art light displays would miss out. We’re doing a soft opening, this weekend with the Kauai Chorale and the countdown for the lights on the lawn of the County Building taking place, Dec. 7, the traditional first Friday in December.”

And, yes, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand to greet keiki in their beautiful sleigh nestled in their fern grotto.

Freeman said the families visiting the Festival of Lights are invited to enjoy the free postcards featuring Festival themes that will be available this weekend, and on Dec. 8 and 9.

This year’s feature trees — the Fire and Rain Tree — were inspired by the major weather events that took place in 2018 — the huge rainstorm that dropped more than 49 inches of rain in less than 24 hours on Kauai, and Madame Pele and the eruption of the volcano on the Big Island.

“While researching rain with Kamealoha Smith, do you realize that there are 200 names for rain in the ancient Hawaiian language?” Freeman said. “I will be using recycled plastic spoons transformed into raindrops for the rain portion of the tree. Paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls are the base for the fiery flame-like images on the Madame Pele portion of the tree.”

Other new trees include the Tropical Reef Fish with fish created from the flat plastic on the to-go containers, and a Hawaiian Shirt tree featuring the decorative aloha shirt designs.

“This is really good,” said Bryden Ka‘auwai, a volunteer with the Kauai High School Academy of Hospitality and Tourism who was helping create some of the decorations for the feature trees. “Those plastic containers are on the list of no-recycling, so I’m glad they figured out another use for them.”

The Kauai High School AOHT students will be among the volunteers acting as docents and greeters when the Festival opens this weekend.

There is no admission to view the folk art displays that are centered around the collection of the late Josie Chansky.

“We want people to come and enjoy,” Freeman said. “Come once, twice, and even three times, or more before Christmas gets here.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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