Kauai Lights Up the Holidays

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Every holiday season, the streets of Lihue light up with colorful floats and festive spirits. Thousands of glowing yuletide arrangements hanging ever-so decoratively along the buildings and landscaping twinkle in a rhythmic beat, as beautiful Christmas carols swell into the expanse of the warm night sky.

Tandem surfing Mr. and Mrs. C.

The annual Festival of Lights has been an island tradition for more than 15 years, and each year, it gets bigger and brighter than the last. It’s when hundreds from around the Garden Isle gather for a night of holiday cheer – with festivities starting in Lihue’s Historic Park.

That’s where carolers from Kauai Chorale share their merry melodies for all to hear. Those who have been coming to the festival for years know that the best way to enjoy the night is by getting comfy and cozy on a fuzzy blanket, with a thermos of hot cocoa in hand!

And from harmonic hymns to an electrifying spectacle, the night proceeds with the famous “Lights on Rice” parade. Dozens of lighted floats roll through Rice Street, passing the Historic County Building and the crowd of smiling faces. Inside of the building, it’s even brighter, with a glittering collection of Christmas folk art created by the late Auntie Josie Chansky.

It look lots of time and patience…and toothpicks to craft this tree.

For nearly four decades, she opened her home to share her Christmas folk art decorations that turned “trash into treasure.” And you couldn’t miss her home in Kapaa; it was the one decorated from the ground up with lights and Christmas decor. The most notable from her collection include a Christmas tree made of 7,500 green toothpicks, wreaths made of plastic egg cartons and a chandelier crafted from wire coat hangers.

Today, Auntie Josie’s legacy lives on. You can see her classic collection on display every year, as well as some creative Christmas trees that deck the halls of the building. Be sure to check out the festival tomorrow, but if you miss it, the display will be open on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays through Dec. 24, 2012 (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.).

FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS • Tomorrow, Dec. 7, 2012 at 6pm • Historic County Building, 96766 • www.kauaifestivaloflights.com

Photo Courtesy: Ron Kosen (first), Jim Shea (second)

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