LIHUE — The Lights on Rice Parade presented by the Rotary Club of Kauai brought thousands of spectators to Rice Street with smiles, laughter — and umbrellas.
It was, by all accounts, full of Christmas spirit, despite a light rain and cool breeze Friday night.
“My son, ever since this morning, has been asking to go to Lihue to watch the band,” said spectator Jen Tevas of Hanapepe, who was born and raised on Kauai. “We like the lights, all the kids, good food, and a lot of people like the candy. We like how everyone’s nice to each other, even though you might not know the strangers next to you. Everyone’s all in that Christmas happy mood.”
The island’s largest annual attraction featured more than 60 units and 3,000 performers.
There were several Santas, elves and snowmen. Band members wearing Santa hats played, people walked dogs sporting antlers and trucks and cars covered front to back with lights drove on the parade route. Keiki and parents shouted and waved excitedly.
This bustling event allows families to enjoy entertainment and the highly anticipated Festival of Lights at the Historic County Building.
People lined up hours early to claim front-row seats to the parade.
“I’m here to see a Paulo, the train,” said Noelani Kanoho, a lifetime resident. “We come every year, I’m 75 years old and we’ve been coming ever since it started. It started off with historic decorations, and the parade was born. We have families that always in it, and we participate ourselves by walking.”
Lihue resident Dana Mitsui said the parade brings families together.
“I come every year for 39 years, and I’m thankful to be a part of it,” she said.
The parade has also been a tradition for Chet Myers’ family ever since his 12-year-old twin sons were babies.
“We love seeing Kauai come together, the whole community, and see faces we haven’t seen in awhile,” he said. “Our church family at Lihue Missionary Church is giving out some good snacks and cookies and hot cocoa and plate lunch for quite a few years. The boys love it, all the lights and candy.”
Another participant in the festivities, band director Sarah Tochiki, said Kauai should be very proud of the parade.
“The entire community comes together to support the kids and start the holiday season,” she said.
Elias Gonzales, who participates in the parade as chorus teacher for Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, said the parade “is a really beautiful important event for the community, especially for our keiki here, because they get to enjoy the opportunity of learning what it is to be a part of the community and be engaged with others.
“I feel this is a beautiful thing that we can all do this together,” he added.