Festival of Lights takes shape at County Bldg

LIHUE — Thanksgiving is a week later this year, said Kauai Fire Battalion Chief Shawn Hosaka.

He was overseeing a shift crew from the Lihue Fire Station work on completing the installation of lights on the front of the historic County Building.

The display installation started earlier in the week with crews from HawaiianTelCom, the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, and Time Warner Oceanic Cable joining the Kauai Fire Department, in stringing lights over the trees in the park of the historic County Building.

Manu Fonua, overseeing the operation for the past 17 years, encouraged the crews on their mission.

“I’ve been here since the start,” Fonua said. “We go through this year after year from checking the lights to making sure everything is ready.”

The Festival of Lights, featuring the holiday decorations of Josie Chansky, opens to the public through the holiday season.

Elizabeth Freeman, head of the Festival of Lights, will formally open the display with the lighting ceremony starting at 6 p.m. Dec. 6.

This year, Freeman took her Festival on the road, holding a public demonstration and lecture at the Princeville Public Library.

“For so many years I have been asked how to make the ‘trash to treasure’ ornaments I designed for our volunteers to make at the Festival of Lights,” Freeman said in an email. “This year’s brief history of the Festival of Lights, samples and demonstrations at the Princeville Library is called ‘Turning Trash into Treasure At the Festival of Lights — From Spam Cans to If Can, Cans.’”

Hosaka remembers doing the installations when he was on the line.

“I remember one year when he had to pull this father and son from Hanakapiai,” Hosaka said. “It was New Year’s. The call came in late, and by the time we were done, it was already dark. We flew back in the helicopter. Everything was quiet, it was hot. Then as we flew over Lihue, we saw the lights. It is something I’ll remember for a long time. It was beautiful. This is why we do this.”

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

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