KILAUEA — Sal and Patty Ochoa got help from the North Shore Lions Club and the Kilauea Neighborhood Center to make an “event” Saturday evening at the Kilauea Dispensary Park.
Sal spearheaded the tree lighting ceremony in which Christmas lights atop a planted Norfolk were lit up before an audience estimated at more than 2,000 people.
“This is the second year Patty and I have done this,” Sal said. “I’ve been a member of the North Shore Lions for a while, and we’ve been talking of making this lighting ceremony an event for the past 13 years.”
A canopy of entertainment was provided by the community, including the Kilauea Social Club, the Kapaa Middle School ukulele band and choir, and others. People settled down to enjoy the big attraction — food — before the arrival of Santa signalled the turning on of the Christmas lights.
“Last year, the kitchen help said they served between 800 to 1,000 meals,” Sal said. “This year, we doubled the amounts we asked for because we didn’t want to run out of food like we did last year.”
The free meal was donated by various community businesses, residents who cooked and shared dishes, and four churches — the North Shore Christian Church, the Christ Memorial Episcopal Church, Cavalry Chapel and Church of the Pacific. Each offered guests free prepared food.
“Chestnuts cooking over an open fire,” said Charlie Martin, effectively juggling his attention between three specially created pans that were roasting chestnuts from Oregon over red-hot coals. “Last year, we brought in 20 pounds and ran out. Tonight, we had 40 pounds, double of last year, and we still ran out. There must be at least twice as many people as last year.”
Patrice Pendarvis, an artist, was not painting anything Saturday night.
“I’m in heaven,” she said, munching the hot, freshly roasted chestnuts from the chef who previously hosted the “Cooking with Charlie” television show. “Tonight, I’m not painting. I’m just here to enjoy.”
Long-time North Shore Lion Bill Troutman said there were about $2,500 worth of commercial LED lamps, and the group was planning to serve more than 1,500 meals.
“This is for the whole community,” Troutman said. “And it’s free! Sal insisted that everything is free — horse-and-buggy rides, kiddie activities, entertainment, food, drinks — all free! The landscaping companies came with their booms to help put the lights on the 15-year-old Norfolk.”
Tom Pickett of Kilauea Bakery said they brought their own made-in-the-bakery sausage.
“There’s food everywhere,” Pickett said. “We made our own sausages — bratwurst, chorizo and Portuguese. This is our second annual, and we made sure we don’t run out of food this year.”
Brenda Turville of Showtime Characters said the event was pretty amazing.
“We didn’t do Lihue Lights (on Rice parade) Friday night because we knew we were coming here tonight,” said Turville, who coordinated the picture-taking opportunity with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and Goofy.
Rachel Porter said her two children, Fairbanks and Nova, were in love with the Patrick Ching horse.
“We just moved to Kilauea, and last year, we didn’t come because it raining,” Porter said. “This year, the weather cooperated.”
Santa arrived aboard a horse and buggy following a tour around the block from the Kilauea Neighborhood Center, signalling time for the lights to be lit and the prizes distributed.
“This is ‘Mom don’t cook, and Dad don’t pay,'” Troutman said. “Merry Christmas!”