The Big Island loves a parade, and after a pause last year because of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, three of the most beloved Christmas parades on the Big Island return — although not in the traditional format.
The 60th annual Waimea Twilight Christmas Parade, the second oldest holiday parade in the state, returns Saturday with a special twist to keep the community safe as the new variant omicron spreads across the globe. The popular event will instead be held as a “reverse parade” in which parade-goers drive through a holiday lane from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“We figured we need something and this was a good safe way to do it,” said parade co-chair Lani Olsen-Chong. “All the units are confined to their own space, their own bubble. They are parked far enough apart where they are separated from the next unit. And because it is a drive-thru, the public will be kept safe because they are remaining in their vehicles.”
As many as 60 holiday floats, lighted trucks and lighted displays will appear along Ala Ohia Road in Waimea Saturday evening including perennial favorites, parade organizers said. In marking the parade’s 60th year, the theme is “A 60s Christmas!”
Parade-goers, who must remain in their vehicles with no stopping allowed, will start their drive through holiday lane at Ala Ohia Road’s intersection with Mamalahoa Highway. Ala Ohia Road will be closed to westbound traffic during the festive event.
At the beginning of the parade route, vehicles with children under age 12 will be marked with a sticky note. Upon reaching Santa’s floats, Santa’s helpers will hand out a good bag for each keiki, while supplies last. The goody bags are sponsored by Hamakua-Kohala Health.
Also at the start of the parade, attendees will be greeted by members of the Big Island Giving Tree Bucket Brigade, asking kokua to help BIGT be sure no one gets left behind this holiday season. BIGT’s annual holiday outreach includes more than 500 Kupuna Bags of foods and essentials that are delivered to their homes, plus warm Christmas dinner deliveries to homeless and others in need. BIGT also adopts families when needed. All donations to BIGT are tax deductible.
“This year’s Parade Grand Marshall is Aunty Eva Lindsey Kealamakia, 99 years young. Kealamakia was the Waimea Postmistress for over 30 years and a fifth-generation Lindsey. Her family is working to re-create a setting reminiscent of the old Post Office for her to be able to wave to parade passersby,” said Patti Cook, community leader.
Police say that between 6-9 p.m. Saturday, a temporary one-way traffic pattern will be in effect for a portion of Ala Ohia Road in Waimea to accommodate participants viewing the drive-by event.
Drivers will enter Ala Ohia Road from Mamalahoa Highway (Route 190). Traffic will flow in a northeasterly direction on Ala Ohia Road, then and turn left on Pukalani Road to exit at Mamalahoa Highway/Pukalani Road intersection at the traffic lights.
During this time entry from Pukalani Road onto Ala Ohia Road will not be allowed. Drivers will be redirected into the Waimea Shopping Center.
Kaomoloa Road at Ala Ohia Road will be closed. Residents of Lualai Subdivision will enter/exit the subdivision at Mamalahoa Highway/Kaomoloa Road intersection.
For more information, visit waimeatown.org/parade.
Parker School adds onto the fun Saturday with its Waimea Winter Wonderland. From 6 to 9 p.m. parade-goers are invited to drive through the school’s main parking lot to enjoy a winter wonderland. Again, participants must stay in their vehicles while enjoying the non-denominational winter scenes including Frozen’s Elsa, Anna, and Olaf.
In East Hawaii, the 18th Annual Keaau Christmas Lighted Parade is on — also in a drive-thru format — from 6-7 p.m. Dec. 11.
The theme is “Back to Our Future,” which Monica Macanas, a member of the parade’s organizing committee, described as “taking our future back to the roots of our Keaau community.”
“We have a combination of floats and bands,” Macanas said, and added those include the Hawaii County Band, Keaau High and Middle Schools bands, Puna Taiko drummers and a choir from Nawahiokalaniopuu Hawaiian language-immersion school. “We have some classic cars that are entering, as well.”
The organizers request spectators to refrain from honking their horns so everyone can hear the children singing and the bands playing.
Vehicles driving-through the event are to enter Kukula Street from Highway 130 at the stop light and exit on Keaau-Pahoa Road.
“Santa is going to be at the end of the parade, as always, giving out candy canes,” Macanas said.
The spectators will vote for the their favorite parade participants, and the top three will receive cash prizes.
An original deadline of Nov. 24 for parade entry applications has been extended until Dec. 10, Macanas said. Parade entry packets can be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and completed packets can be returned to the same email address or faxed to (808) 968-7068.
For more information, call Macanas at (808) 895-6288.
Also on Saturday, Dec. 11, Kailua-Kona hosts its own Christmas parade, Holoholo Kalikimaka at Kekuaokalani from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Kekuaokalani Gymnasium and the Kona Community Aquatic Center.
The walk-through parade will begin at the north gate of the complex, with spectators strolling through stationary entries ending on the south side culminating with Santa and his reindeer.
“We weren’t planning on having a parade this year because of COVID,” said Barbara Kossow, one of the parade organizers. “On Nov. 8, Mayor (Mitch) Roth said he wanted to have a walk-through parade and to make it happen.”
Kossow said the parade usually takes months to plan, but with the uncertainty of COVID, the abbreviated parade was planned last minute.
“We want to give our community something, and with the time constraint, this is the best we can do,” said Kossow.
The parade committee is still accepting entrants, especially ones decorated with lots of lights.
“We need choke lights. We really want to light the place up,” she said.
They are also seeking volunteers to control foot traffic along the stroll.
“Just like businesses who can’t find employees, we don’t have volunteers,” she said.
Kossow said they are planning on having food trucks set up near the keiki playground, directing interested food vendors to contact her for more information.
Call Renee Kraft at (808) 345-2108 or Barbara Kossow at (808) 938-0806 for more information or to enter.
Tribune-Herald reporter John Burnett contributed to this story.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald