Family affair in both spectators, participants in Lights on Rice

LIHU’E — For the first time, three of the Zaima sisters were part of the Lights on Rice Parade.

Kaleo Carvalho of The Kaua’i Bus said that it all started with Janine (Zaima) Rapozo, head of the county Offices of Community Assistance Transportation Agency. Sister Bridgette got excited from her Kauai Economic Opportunity, Inc. (KEO) office, and Melanie Zaima Higashi brought in one of the newest companies with the Royal Hawaiian Movers entry. Carvalho, who is one of the ringleaders of The Kaua’i Bus entry in the annual parade, has become something of a magnet for others wishing to have highimpact displays in the event.

“They all came to see what we were doing,” Carvalho noted while waiting for the parade to start. “KEO, Hawaiian Telcom, they all wanted to know what we were doing,” Carvalho said. “But, we never turned them away. We all end up talking and sharing ideas.”

The sharing of ideas and little selfless deeds are underlying reasons for the success of the parade that this year brought thousands of people to line Rice Street from the intersection of Ho’olako Road up to the lawn of the historic County Building, the crowd spilling onto both sides of the unlit portions of Ho’olako Road on one end of the route, and onto both sides of ‘Eiwa Street at the parade route’s terminus.

“You should have seen the faces of the people, especially the youngsters,” said J Robertson of Ho’ike Kaua’i Community Television, Inc., who was host and emcee for the event.

“This is their once-a-year charge. They were really excited.”

“We sold out,” Rosie Bukoski of Rosie’s lunch wagon said from her vantage point at the Lihu’e Civic Center Big Save parking lot. “We brought a lot of food, more than last year, but we got wiped out. Look at Ke Akua Mana church. They really are getting a lesson in food booths.”

Ke Akua Mana leaders were among the first-timers to the event, manning both a food booth at the Kaua’i Museum Christmas Craft Fair and a lighted entry in the parade. As other vendors were packing up their sold-out containers, they were serving up salads as fast as they could prepare them.

“We didn’t know the other guys started early,” said the Rev. Ipo “Lady Ipo” Kahaunaele- Ferreira. “But, this is our first year, so hopefully, next year” will be better.

Kaua’i Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste had his sleeves rolled up as he joined the county antidrug office’s Bev Pang in helping to direct floats and keep the spectators safe at the parade’s end on ‘Eiwa Street.

Throughout the route, spectators tossed greetings of “merry Christmas” and “happy holidays” to other jubilant parade participants, who answered in kind.

“We had 2,000 light sticks and a thousand candies,” said an excited Kathy Miyake, branch manager for Central Pacific Bank. “Next year, if we come in, we’re going to have to think about at least 5,000.”

Girl Scouts from Brownie Troop 812 and ARC of Kauai clients worked on Thursday afternoon with associates from McCloskey and Company to place labels on around 6,000 light sticks provided by Tom and Bonnie McCloskey that were distributed along the parade route.

“We sold out,” said an excited Marsha Almarza of American Savings Bank, of their blinkies, the sale of which benefited members of agencies of the Kauai United Way. At the entrance to Kauai Auto Sales, the empty jars lining the Frantastic Coffee cart were another testament to the crowd.

“It’s the single biggest free event on the island,” said Steve Kaui of Garden Isle Disposal, who provided the trash receptacle where ‘opala could be deposited by the cleanup crews made up of Boy Scouts from Troop 148 and Troop 33, who have been with the parade from the start.

“This year, the boys stayed late,” Troop 148 Scoutmaster Lyle Tabata said. “The trash was unbelievable this year, and when everything was over, the boys even stayed to help the museum.”

Some of the players in the success of the Friday night event included members of the Taiko Kauai group, Clara Kaneshiro, Chris Fayé, Lianne Muraoka, Michelle Beck, and leaders from Service Rentals & Supplies and the County of Kaua’i.

Judith “Judy” Lenthall of the Kauai Food Bank had made her way up to the historic County Building to congratulate some of the organizers, who told her, “It all started over lunch,” to which Lenthall quickly responded, “That’s why I don’t do lunch.”


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