County Building holiday lights go on today

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Manu Fonua, described by Elizabeth Freeman as “the mega magician,” troubleshoots a circuit Tuesday during a test lighting of the Festival of Lights at the Historic County Building.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The Historic County Building on Rice Street in Lihu‘e is framed by one of the lawn’s illuminated monkeypod and royal palm trees Tuesday evening during a test lighting of this year’s Festival of Lights.

LIHU‘E — The 24th annual Festival of Lights will break the gloomy skies starting at 6 p.m. today, Thanksgiving Day.

“I was worried Monday morning,” said Elizabeth Freeman, festival chairperson. “We had several days of rain out, and we had three more trees to string as well as the lights on the Historic County Building columns to put up. Last week’s stormy weather left us many days behind schedule (for a Thanksgiving Day opening). But the Kaua‘i Fire Department and Manu Fonua came through again. They are the park lights heroes.”

Freeman said that, following nearly a quarter of a century, the 2020 Festival of Lights will be kept to the displays on the lawn of the Historic County Building.

“With the novel coronavirus, to be safe, we are not doing our displays inside the Historic County Building,” Freeman said. “There is no way to social distance. Children have had a tough year, and the park lights always make them happy. I’m glad to say the Festival of Lights home team pushed hard, and the lights will go on.”

The park lights will go on from around 6 p.m. and stay on until past 10 p.m. nightly through New Year’s Day.

“We even turn on the lights early in the morning — from 5 to 7 a.m. — so people coming to work can enjoy the displays while driving to work,” Fonua said. “This is just something extra we can do.”

No holiday light display would be complete without the visit from Santa Claus, and the COVID-19 did not stop Santa from dropping in on the Festival of Lights.

“I just confirmed with Santa and Mrs. Claus that they will be visiting the Kaua‘i Festival of Lights,” Freeman said. “And, yes, they will be greeting everyone from their Santa bubble at the top of the steps leading to the Historic County Building.”

Santa — he and Mrs. Claus are in the high-risk COVID-19 group — and Mrs. Claus can be visited with no contact in their Santa bubble. There is ample room for pictures with Santa, just observe the social-distancing and no-contact guidelines.

The North Pole visitors will be available to greet park goers on consecutive Fridays, Dec. 4, 11 and 18, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The 24th Annual Festival of Lights is made possible through the support of the County of Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, HouseMart Ace, KQNG Radio, Spectrum Reach, and the many, many volunteer hands and spirits of community residents that add sparkle to the glistening lights.

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