LIHU‘E — “Merry Christmas!” Babs Briggs screamed at the top of her lungs at the non-ending string of automobiles making the Rice Street rise to town Friday at the Texaco gas station across from the Kaua‘i Museum.
Babs was joined by her sister Jasmine and grandpa Santa (also known as grandpa Chad Briggs – “as in the Navy,” he said) in welcoming the line of cars curbside, one of which had a pair of dogs barking back in answer to Babs’ screams.
“I tell you,” one spectator enveloped by the music emanating from Lihu‘e Missionary Church carolers, spoke loudly on his smartphone in an effort at being heard. “This is the strangest thing. It’s a reverse parade. You know, instead of parade floats, the buildings are dressed up and people drive by — reverse.”
A panel of judges left the Festival of Lights that were officially turned on during the Thanksgiving weekend, and was quickly swallowed up by the darkness and people strolling with face masks and being socially-distanced along Rice Street from the Historic County Building to the Kalena Street stoplight in search of the illuminated oasis.
“I love this,” said Jade Waiale‘ale Battad, strolling past the Rice Street mural created during an earlier block party. “We live close by, so the family came out to see what this is about. This is gorgeous.”
Another mural series created about the time the Ha Coffee Bar opened operations at The Kaua‘i Beer Company wrapped itself around the group of diners, including Sharron Weber of Tire Warehouse, who has been an active participant in the lights parade that welcomes December on the first Friday of the month.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw no permits for the parade being issued by the County of Kaua‘i, and Weber settled for having dinner streetside instead of piloting the Tire Warehouse float and distributing her annual allocation of flashlights.
Jessica Geffert was among those anxiously awaiting the panel of judges adjudicating the business-decorating contest.
“Jessica did all the heavy lifting for the decorating,” said Jim Guerber of The Kaua‘i Beer Company, touted on one of the murals as “the place between work and home.” “She just wants to see their reaction to the Christmas tree that’s just the right size for where it sits.”
Unfortunately, the panel of judges passed on the tree made up of empty beverage containers. Instead, they awarded first place to Garden Island Courier, whose decorations Waiale‘ale Battad described as “parade ready.”
Second-place honors belonged to Barre Soule, which struggled to stay visible during the Rice Street construction. Friday night, Barre Soule glistened next door to the Garden Island Courier building.
Third-place honor was awarded to the Hair Razors Salon, with the craftsmanship of the lights and decorations doing an effective job of masking the activity taking place inside.
The lights are scheduled to be on through the holidays for motorists to enjoy.