KALAHEO — After years of service, Santa is getting rid of his faithful chair at Onohi Lane in Kalaheo.
When children come to visit the small lane, Santa will be greeting them from a new sleigh pulled by a brightly lit Rudolph.
“He started working on it from the day after Christmas, last year,” said Juan Lorenzo, owner of one of the decorated homes in the Kalaheo neighborhood that’s been lighting up its street for 32 years, about his neighbor Larry Carveiro, who plays Santa. “It’s completely portable so he can store it until next year, too.”
The holiday lights, with the appearance of Santa from 7 to 9 nightly until Dec. 24, is a tradition which started in 1982. Like clockwork, it came to life this week — again — when Lorenzo pushed the button activating the star mounted atop a tall Christmas tree.
“You can see the star from the highway,” Lorenzo said. “I tell people, if you can’t see the star, you might as well go home.”
Larry and Gwen Carveiro pull out the stops in hospitality for people who bring their children to admire the illuminated displays covering almost all of the homes on the small lane.
“Santa has something for all the good children,” Larry said with a chuckle. “And, if people want to help, we accept donations of canned goods and non-perishable food for the food bank.”
Although officially illuminated for the season, Lorenzo said there is still another step before his display is complete.
“Thursday, our church will have a special service for the children,” he said. “At that time, I place the Angel of Peace in place for this year’s display. That completes the display.”
Starting every year by early November, Lorenzo said he once took vacation from his job to set up the display.
“I’ll never take vacation to set up the display again,” he said. “I thought I would get it done earlier, but you know about procrastination. And then, I got sick, and by the time vacation ended, Larry was way ahead of me.”
This year, the Carveiros and Lorenzo completed the transformation from incandescent lamps to LED lights.
“It makes a difference,” Lorenzo said. “I have a smart meter in the house and I keep track of the usage. Based on everything, I think I cut back about half of what it cost using the older lamps.”
Carveiro said the move to LED lights allowed them to set up more lights.
“We were already to the maximum,” the professional lawn mower sharpener said. “If I wanted more lights, I would have had to put in a new box. Now, with LEDs, I can still have more lights.”
Lorenzo remembers how the tradition started back in 1982.
“Larry and I each had one string of lights which we put on our garage,” Lorenzo said. “From there, every year, even after Hurricane Iniki, we kept adding lights. We’re officially hardcore.”
Larry said every house which is lit up helps the overall effect — even if they put up just one string of lights.
Everything is worthwhile when you see the children’s reaction, he said.
“People come from all over,” he said. “We have parents, and even grandparents coming from as far away as Princeville. And when you see how the children’s faces light up, all the work is worthwhile.”
Once the holidays are done, the displays are packed up until next year. But as soon as it’s put away, it’s being added to because Gwen and Larry do the shopping circuit of close-outs and after-Christmas specials.
“If people are going to throw away their lights, maybe we can use them,” Gwen said.
The illuminated displays go on when the sun sets on Onohi Lane through the holidays, although Santa is absent on Dec. 24 because of his worldwide trip to visit homes.