Festival of Lights nearly a five-figure endeavor

Imagine the work and tender loving care involved in taking down and storing your decorations after the holidays.

Now, multiply that by about 100.

That’s just one of the considerations committee members of the Festival of Lights need to be concerned with.

The annual display of homemade and handmade decorations of Josie Chansky and the late Joseph Chansky of Kapa’a moved to the County Building six years ago, rescued from storage or piecemeal sale by Elizabeth Freeman, whose Festival of Lights committee footed the entire bill for the events the first few years.

This year’s event has a budget of over $8,000, getting some help from the Ambassadors of Aloha program and county budget. Over 2,200 volunteer hours are needed and donated each year to erect, take down and store the decorations, turned on for the first time this season last Friday after the Lights on Rice Christmas parade.

Proper storage of the aging and fragile displays is a time-consuming and expensive part of the exhibit, and Festival of Lights coordinator Freeman has been making appearances before public-service organizations and anyone else who will listen, soliciting donations to the cause.

Preparations began in September, she said. Setup began the second week of November.

Replacing mini-lights and setup supplies, refreshments for volunteers, audio/visual costs for opening night, donations for participating nonprofit teen groups, fees for park setup technician, materials for preservation of decorations, candy canes for giving out, fees for computer design work for annual poster and flyers, postage, photo and video documentation, and leis for opening night are the bulk of the annual expenses, she explained.

On the lawn fronting the County Building, over 100,000 mini-lights have been strung by county and private-sector volunteers. Each Friday and Saturday through Christmas, families can visit Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Contributions are tax-deductible, and should be made out to Ambassadors of Aloha, and earmarked for Festival of Lights, she said.

There is a bit of a twist to this year’s display, as some of the tables of ornaments and other decorations will be required to give way to application tables for absentee walk-in voting for the special election to choose someone to take the two-year term of the late U.S. Rep. Patsy T. Mink (D, rural O’ahu, Neighbor Islands).

Mink, who died on O’ahu in late September after complications from pneumonia and chicken pox, was re-elected during last month’s general election. Former state Rep. Ed Case (D, Manoa) was elected, also last month, at a special election to fill Mink’s unexpired term, until mid-January.

Another special election, to fill Mink’s two-year term, is set for Saturday, Jan. 4.

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