Aida Kawamura heads to Vegas

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Performers from the Aloha Dance Studio make a guest appearance during the Holiday Lights Spectacular Saturday night during the Kukui Grove Center holiday season launch.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A holiday reindeer joins members of the “Aristocats KIDS” in singing from the Kalaheo School Sunshine Express train Saturday during the 26th Kauai Christmas Parade at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Performers with the Koloa Dance House move and groove during the 26th Kauai Christmas Parade Saturday at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The Kauai All Island Band gets in some practice marching and warming up Saturday during the 26th Kauai Christmas Parade at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kuma, earlier in the year winning the HowlOWeen costume contest, is ready with a Santa (and rider) outfit for the 26th Kauai Christmas Parade Saturday at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The Girl Scouts are ready to roll Saturday during the 26th Kauai Christmas Parade at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Capt. Bill Simon’s rider from The Salvation Army hangs on ahead of the Band Wagon musicians Saturday during the 26th Kauai Christmas Parade at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The jolly icon of the season greets spectators from atop an all-terrain vehicle Saturday during the 26th Kauai Christmas Parade at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The stilt walkers couldn’t stay away as they greet spectators from their vantage point Saturday, while Kaleo Carvalho of the Mayor’s Office, right, karaokes, during the 26th Kauai Christmas Parade at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    And the rains came, sending people home drenched from the 26th Kauai Christmas Parade Saturday at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Representatives of the winners of the music and talent units in the 26th Kauai Christmas Parade gather on stage at Kukui Grove Center, including Aloha Dance Studio, first place; Kauai All Island Band, second place; and Kalaheo School Sunshine Express, third place.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Aida Kawamura, center, is selected the winner of a Las Vegas trip by Kristen Collins of The Garden Island and Midweek newspapers, left, and Ron Wiley of KQNG Radio Group, Saturday during the Kukui Grove Center holiday launch.

LIHUE — Aida Kawamura wondered where all the people went Saturday night during the premiere of the Holiday Lights Spectacular at Kukui Grove Center.

“I kept hearing all those names of winners, but no one responded,” she said. “I thought someone would beat me out.”

But no one responded to the calls being made by Ron Wiley of KQNG Radio Group, who was being assisted by Melissa McFerrin Warrack, the events coordinator at Kukui Grove, and Kristen Collins of The Garden Island and Midweek newspapers.

That is, until Kawamura’s name was called as the winner of the must-be-present-to-win Las Vegas trip package for two that marked the end of a holiday launch campaign at the shopping center. The newspapers and Kukui Grove sponsored the contest.

Kawamura was just one of the many winners who emerged from the sea of thousands of people who flocked to the center, taking advantage of extended Black Friday specials and Small Business Saturday deals.

The parade took a new twist, starting at the front parking lot in front of the former Big Kmart store and winding its way past throngs of people lining the center before ending at the front parking lot. Judging was headed by David and Leoni Cosner, Mark Bonilla of Jamba Juice, and Sara Miura of Deja Vu Surf Hawaii.

Was the missing banner the difference for the Kapaa Middle School Choir and Ukulele Band (they’ve got their Christmas concert Wednesday in the school’s playcourt) that finished second in the schools judging behind the Kauai High School Student Council? Third place belonged to the Waimea High School JROTC unit, which presented the colors just behind the Ainofea group that heralded the parade with its traditional banner accompanied by the Hawaiian flag.

Following the protocol group, the Kauai Classic Cars led the parade — and the judging for floats — with its entourage of 14 cars that braved the threatening weather. Miss Kauai USA coordinated by Avery Kano and featuring Ki‘ilani Arruda and Sarah Miguel garnered second-place votes, edging out Bandwagon.

Kuma broke out a Santa outfit as part of the Dog Fanciers of Kauai unit, which topped the judging for marching units, and the anxious Girl Scout waiting for her vest could not dampen the spirit of the Girl Scouts of Kauai, which finished in second place. The Kauai Junior Golf Association unit finished third in that category judging.

The all-red bling performers from the Aloha Dance Studio topped the new music/talent judging after its cast abandoned the parade for the safety of the food court area following the windy deluge that sent paraders and spectators scrambling for the closest shelter. The performers retained their poise and grace to continue with a guest appearance at the Holiday Lights Spectacular that closed the evening’s festivities.

Sarah Tochiki led the Kauai All Island Band to a second-place finish, followed by the Kalaheo School Sunshine Express and its “Aristocats KIDS” crew (their public performances are Friday through Sunday at the Kalaheo School cafeteria) ending in third place.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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