Thousands greet the holidays at trio of Lihu‘e events

LIHU‘E — Thousands of people welcomed the holidays Friday, taking part in a trio of events throughout the day.

“I was helping with the West Kaua‘i United Methodist Church making malasadas for about an hour because they were short-handed,” said Randall Francisco, president of the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce. “Now, Tim Saunders needs help at the Photo Booth Kaua‘i, so I’m here. Tim said he’ll be at the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce Annual General Membership Meeting Thursday at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa.”

Photo Booth Kaua‘i was one of the new vendor offerings at the Kaua‘i Museum annual Christmas Craft Fair, which ran from 10 a.m. and closed at the end of the Lights on Rice holiday parade.

“I emceed at the Retired Senior Volunteer Program Friday morning where they had a pretty big crowd and they didn’t boo me off the stage,” said Julie Souza, encouraging people to visit the various craft booths and food booths.

Punctuating the trio of events, the Festival of Lights officially lit up the lights at the historic County Building and its part, the effort being spearheaded by Elizabeth Freeman.

Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. was joined by Santa Claus, the Kaua‘i Chorale and keiki of Halau Ka Lei Kukui Hi‘ilani who threw the switch illuminating thousands of lights both inside and outside the historic County Building.

Coming on the heels of lighting, the Lights on Rice started, thrilling thousands of spectators lining Rice Street and portions of Ho‘olako Road with its parade of more than 60 units and more than two thousand walkers.

“This is a great family event,” said Kaua‘i County Council Chair Jay Furfaro, who was among the throngs in the park of the historic County Building. “I have someone who is walking with the Kaua‘i High School Key Club and we came to watch.”

At the heart of the parade, hosted by the Rotary Club of Kaua‘i, was a float featuring the combined efforts of the Kaua‘i Rotary Clubs and spearheaded by Ron Morin, president of the Rotary Club of Kaua‘i.

Morin said the Senba Zuru, or one thousand and one origami paper cranes folded by the children of Japan and coordinated by the Moriyama City Rotary Club, will be used for both the Lights on Rice parade and the Waimea Lighted Christmas Parade scheduled for Dec. 22.

Art Umezu, the Kaua‘i film commissioner, said the cranes symbolize “peace” on a significant day in the history of both Hawai‘i and Japan — the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The newly-elected president of Rotary International is from Japan and wanted to use the cranes to launch the “75 Years of Service,” which is being celebrated by the Kaua‘i Rotary Clubs.

Hoike Community Television will be broadcasting the Lights on Rice parade starting next week and continuing through Christmas.


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