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The annual Festival of Lights turn on Thanksgiving night

LIHU‘E — The annual Festival of Lights display on the lawn and “front porch” of the historic County Building will turn on at 6 p.m., Thanksgiving Day, said Elizabeth Freeman of the Festival of Lights.

“The lights will be on every night from 6 to 11:30 p.m., or maybe midnight,” Freeman said. “And then, at 4 a.m., the lights go on again until around 6 a.m. so people going to work can enjoy them as they drive by. The lights will be on through New Year’s Day.”

Started in 1997, the Festival of Lights has become a holiday tradition where families get to enjoy the lawn of the historic County Building that is decorated with hundred, if not thousands, of holiday lights installed through the volunteer efforts of firemen, and businesses like Hawaiian Telcom, and the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative.

“It’s been 25 years,” Freeman said. “And, just like in 2021, we are only going to decorate the park and the historic County Building ‘Front Porch’ because there is not enough space to social distance, inside the building. On the Front Porch, we’ll have six big trees, including a new tree donated by Lucette and Crystal Walters for the Dave Walters Estate, and a huge Snowman Hale.”

Students from the Kaua‘i High School Hospitality class led by Crystal Ozaki, and a perennial corps of Festival of Lights volunteer already started creating new folk art ornaments for the Walters tree, as well as refurbishing and cleaning up ornaments for the five other featured trees.

“The Festival of Lights is noted for its use of recycled materials to make all the decorations on all of our trees,” Freeman said. “Recycled plastic water bottle, recycled aluminum cans, used CDs and more become transformed when they go up on our beautiful trees.”

Freeman leads the effort by collecting items for the tree decorations, provides tutorials for the student volunteers and the many artisans that come to help prepare the trees for the public to enjoy, inspired and motivated by the Josie Chansky collection that she picked up after seeing it available at a garage sale.

The Chansky House, as it was known as during its heyday, is in Kapahi and attracted scores of visitors each night with its collection of folk art holiday decorations, almost all being illuminated, that included creations out of egg cartons, Vienna sausage tins, discarded sewing spools, toothpicks, and more.

“Our goal is to carry on a tradition of Kaua‘i Holiday Aloha by creating a destination that offers a unique Kaua‘i-style experience. Each year, we endeavor to create an environment of magical holiday beauty that people can carry in their hearts,” Freeman said.

”Families and individuals from all over the island can stroll under the dazzling lights in the Royal Palms and monkeypod trees, and enjoy the handmade ornaments created from recycled materials on the front porch trees and hale.”

Freeman said Santa and Mrs. Claus will make stops at the front porch on Fridays starting Dec. 2 through Dec. 23, and on Christmas Eve to visit with keiki.

“Free photos are taken by our Photo Elf,” Freeman said. “Our entire event is always free!”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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