The lighting of a city's Christmas tree means the holidays have officially turned on for the year and 'tis the season to be holly/jolly/merry or all of the above. It's when snow starts to fall elsewhere around the world, and in Hawai‘i, it's a slight chill in the air around this time of year that pretty much sums up our "Christmas weather."
VIDEO: Christmas trees light up Honolulu and San Fran, each unique in its own way.
While we may not be able to make snow angels or have snowball fights, Hawai‘i's just as big on the holidays as anywhere else. Earlier this month, I had the chance to attend two different tree lightings, here in the islands as well as on the mainland, and I must admit, the mainland's got some competition when it comes to kicking off the Christmas season right!
I waited among 500 others who showed up to Honolulu Hale's annual tree lighting last week, wearing slippers and shorts thanks to the light trades. Much more comfortable than the 40-degree weather my family and I shivered through while patiently awaiting the Macy's tree to light up San Francisco's night skies. Five hundred's a lot for Hawai‘i, but for San Fran, I was told the 2,000 people who filled the streets and Union Square arena were about the norm. It wasn't what we expected but definitely part of an authentic holiday experience!
Christmas in Hawai‘i doesn't mean we have to put away the surfboards. It's a shakas to all and to all, a good night!
Hawai‘i had a quick parade following the actual tree lighting while San Fran had a similar version, except on ice. An outdoor skating rink invited the Grinch, Santa and some reindeer to the stage, complete with singing and dancing and of course, some figure skating. The parade down Honolulu's King Street had some cool floats, though, like the one with a few local musicians performing Hawaiian tunes for all that gathered. And we can't forget the AlohaBus decked out with holiday cheer!
But the moment the tree came to life at both places really showed just how much people love the holidays, no matter where in the world they may be. Macy's bought its tree this year while Hawai‘i received its 50-foot holiday tree as a gift from a local resident. The tree once sat in her front yard; it's what led her to buy the house in the first place.
Now its new hang out spot's in front of Honolulu Hale, fronting King Street. The lighting of the tree is not only the official kick off to Christmas but a reason to gather with loved ones – holding a hot cup of cocoa or, like I saw at this year's Hawai‘i lighting celebration, holding a spam musubi. LOL. And probably only in Hawai‘i will you hear a few scattered shouts of "hana hou" (encore) from the crowd to encourage a repeat of the tree lighting. Hmm, gotta wait till next year!
(Left) Christmas lights up Hawai‘i's coconut trees. (Right) You can't tell through the picture, but this tree's freezing in 40-degree weather!
HONOLULU CITY LIGHTS / 530 King Street, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96813 (Map) / Lights up at sunset, everyday till Jan. 2 / www.honolulucitylights.org / Metered street or lot parking; Near bus stop
December 16th, 2011