Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023 |
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CIRA de CASTILLOTGI Staff Writer
LIHU’E – Tonight as the sun sets over Pacific blue waters, the Historic County
Building in Lihu’e will be transformed into an island wonderland. The Festival
of Lights is coming to town along with Santa and Ms. Claus!
ceremony begins at 6 p.m. and will be followed by a 30-unit parade at 6:30 p.m.
The parade forms on the corner of Rice and Hardy streets and travels west up
Rice Street to the Historic County Building.
The parade will feature
decorated floats, beauty queens and Santa! Lots of helpers will be spreading
holiday cheer and passing out candy to parade watchers.
The Festival of
Lights Parade is dedicated to the memory of the late county Office of Economic
Development director Gerald Dela Cruz who had a wish that the people of Kaua’i
would have an event to bring the community together to celebrate the holiday
The Festival of Lights and the Festival of Lights Parade attracted
thousands last year and is expected to attract a larger crowd this
Elizabeth Freeman, festival organizer, promises that the display will
delight young and old alike with a magical touch that captures the joy of the
The Festival of Lights began three years ago to preserve a
tradition started by Joe and Josie Chansky. Each December, for 15 years, the
Chanskys would decorate their Kawaihau home with an elaborate Christmas light
Families from all over Kaua’i would come to visit the “Kapa’a
When Joe Chansky died in 1996, the tradition was almost
lost as Josie Chansky was not able to undertake the enormous job of mounting
the display herself.
Happily, the spirit of Santa was found in Elizabeth
Freeman of Seacliff School. Freeman obtained the light display from Chansky and
with the efforts of Seacliff School and lots of volunteers preserved the
holiday tradition for island families to enjoy.
“We want the festival to
live on as a legacy for Kaua’i’s children,” Freeman said. “The Christmas lights
have been donated to the county for enjoyment of generations to come. This is
really about love, sharing and the children.”
Freeman envisions that one
day all of Rice Street will be lit in the holiday spirit.
Lights will be illuminated by Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, host for the evening’s
The celebration begins at 6 p.m. with caroling by the Kaua’i
Chorale and the Kaua’i Community College Chamber Singers. As the evening
unfolds soprano, Sandy Smith will grace the Festival with song while Santa and
Ms. Claus welcome everyone to tour the transformed county building.
Freeman says when the festival was first envisioned it was always planned
to be a community project.
Originally Seacliff School parents and a few
community volunteers mounted the display but this year the whole community
really started to get involved.
“We want and need to continue that
tradition of community involvement,” Freeman said.
To this end Aunty
Josie’s Christmas Club, a community volunteer committee, has been formed to
ensure the event will always be a part of the holidays. Any club or
organization that wants to contribute service to the community is welcome,
More than 550 volunteer hours and lots of elves got this
year’s display together.
The Uili Taufatafua family, Louis Rodriguez
family, Cathy McDonald, Megan Whited, Dore Jean, Linda Dietrich and of course
Josie Chansky are just a few of the volunteers who have made the festival a
reality this year.
GTE, Kaua’i Electric, Kaua’i Power Partners, Garden
Island Telecommunications, King Auto Center, Lihue Ace- Ben Franklin, Procoats
Hawaii, Wal-mart, Big Kmart, the Kaua’i Fire Department and the county building
and public works departments came together in support of the festival, Freeman
“It’s really joyous to see a community park come to life,” said
The Christmas display with Santa and Ms. Claus will be open each
Friday and Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. throughout the month of December.
Dec. 24 we’ll all be there for the families of Kaua’i to enjoy,” Freeman said.
“To make the holidays bright for everyone on Kaua’i guests are requested
to bring canned goods for the Salvation Army and a new toy for the PMRF Toys
for Tots Campaign,” she said.
Freeman said help is needed to dismantle the
display and to pack and catalog all the decorations. Anyone who wants to
volunteer to help on Jan. 8 and 9 may call Freeman at 828-0353.
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