LIHUE — Isabelle Tumpap got a gift better than the prizes being given out for the 24th Kauai Christmas Parade Saturday evening at Kukui Grove Center.
Tumpap, marching with the Kauai Lions Club, lit up like the specially decorated palm trees and Christmas trees in the mall as she was treated to a personal visit with Santa in Paradise. The Lions were announced second-place winners for the Singing and Talent category.
Kalaheo School Sunshine Express students, wearing shirts for their upcoming “Elf, Jr.” production, collected the top prize in the Singing and Talent category. Students sang their way along the parade route, somewhat protected from the brisk winds and showers in the four-car train accompanied by Laine Griffith, the Kalaheo School music director.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., the parade’s grand marshall, and the County of Kauai rounded out the division in third place. The colorful group was anchored by Kaleo Carvalho getting Art Umezu to pull the parade-experienced portable karaoke system before hundreds of bundled-up people and keiki lining the parade route that wound around the perimeter of the shopping center.
“Santa hats are sold out,” Umezu said. “I had to find a red cap because I couldn’t find any Santa hats.”
“I had to find my biggest hat,” said Santa (aka Phil Worwa). “See how big it is? It was really blowing out there, and I couldn’t have my hat flying away. This one is the heaviest one I could find.”
Under the direction of Sarah Tochiki and Kevin Toma, the Kauai All-Island Band topped the Best Schools category, a new division added to this year’s parade presented by the Garden Island Federal Credit Union, the Kauai Teachers Federal Credit Union and the merchants of the Kukui Grove Center.
The Waimea High School JROTC unit, commanded by cadet Lt. Col. Braden Kobayashi, picked up runner-up honors in the division with the Kauai District Student Council rounding out the class.
Colorful and elegant fashion for canines highlighted the Marching Unit division as the Dog Fanciers, finishing tops, combined their effort with four-legged critters from the Kauai Animal Welfare Society, who finished third.
Brad Hiranaka and the Kauai Youth Football athletes outnumbered the representatives of Big Save/Times Supermarket who finished in the runner-up spot for the Marching Unit.
Avery Kano of the Miss Hawaii USA Pageant had to whisk his queens away from the inclement weather despite earning top honors in the Best Float category. Harvey Maeda and the Kauai Classic Cars mimicked the action, as the group of two dozen vehicles needed to get out of the rain after nailing runner-up honors.
Na Hoku royalty under the direction of Cheryl Perreira, however, remained with the crowd and erupted with glee after being named to third place in the Best Float category.
Stephanie Shinno of the GIFCU said next year’s parade, always penned in for the Saturday following Thanksgiving, should be even bigger because it will be the 25th anniversary.