Kikue Yamamoto is 101 years young, and read about Naoko Ogata’s birthday last week, Eric Nordmeier said Saturday at Hofgaard Park in Waimea.
“They’re good friends,” Nordmeier said. “She said she’s older, too!”
Yamamoto was among the Kauai Care Home guests who mingled with more than 700 people who bundled up against the Waimea chill for the tree lighting ceremony that welcomed the holidays to the Westside town.
“Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. was supposed to come,” said Penny Young, one of the leaders for the ceremony. “But he didn’t want to share the cold germs so he has Kauai Fire Chief Robert Westerman representing him, and reading to the children.”
Westerman had little problem collecting a crowd of listeners as he read one of the many books being distributed free by the Keiki to Career volunteers. The young recipients had the opportunity to create bookmarks as well as take a turn decorating holiday cookies.
The event also triggered the start of the Waimea Street Decorating that enhances the annual Waimea Christmas Lighted Parade that will take place on Dec. 15.
Across the street at Ishihara Market, a perennial winner of the decorating contest, store manager Darren Curameng waited for the sun to dip into the Pacific Ocean, anxious to turn on this year’s edition of holiday lights under the new Sullivan Corp. ownership.
“We’re missing some things,” Curameng said. “We don’t have Ray and Guy (Ishihara), and we lost a couple of trees. But we’re ready!”
The lighting was delayed as David Leong led the Waimea High School band to not just one, but several hana hou performances prompted by the crowd that surged beyond the boundaries of Hofgaard Park as darkness teased the streets and cooled the Westside heat. They were fueled by a sugar rush from the variety of handmade treats offered by the Waimea High School Project Grad.
Westerman led the countdown before the lights that also triggered the tent and stage lighting, where a trio of Sesame Street characters met with eager, stage-surging young people squealing in delight.
The displays are on nightly from sunset through the holidays and will be especially bright on Dec. 15 when the lighted Christmas parade goes through town starting at 6:15 p.m.
“Remember, the streets close down before that time,” said Esther Estes, the parade chair. “Come early, get your parking space, and enjoy some of the many treats being offered by community nonprofits like the Waimea High School Project Grad.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.