Every three years, new ornaments are created to dress the grand Holiday tree on the Honolulu Hale lawn. This year’s fanciful ocean-themed decorations were inspired by Shaka Santa’s snorkeling holoholo adventure to Hanauma Bay, featured in the event’s signature ornament.
Don’t miss the unveiling of the new ocean-themed ornaments and the lighting of the 50-foot tree by Mayor Peter Carlisle on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. on the lawn of Honolulu Hale.
Arrive early to get parking in the Civic Center Parking Structure as you don’t want to miss former Miss Hawaii Debbie Nakanelua-Richards who will emcee the ceremony and songstress Melveen Leed who will sing "Honolulu City Lights," a tradition established by promoter/record producer Tom Moffatt.
Island keiki are encouraged to look for other decorations on the grounds and inside Honolulu Hale that carry out the theme "Santa’s Underwater Adventure."
Look closely and you’ll see an 8-foot he'e, or octopus, spouting water in the Honolulu Hale fountain.
Holiday colored 9-foot sea horses greet you at the doors to the courtyard. Huge starfish decorate the building and the Christmas trees in the courtyard, created by city employees, are decorated with ornaments inspired by the underwater adventure theme.
"We wanted to have a whimsical focus this year," said Kaleve Iosefa, the coordinator of Honolulu City Lights for the City. "We hope children will not only enjoy the new exhibits, but will learn more about our island connection to the sea."
Presented free by the City and County of Honolulu and the Friends of Honolulu City Lights, the annual holiday celebration draws thousands to the downtown/civic center on opening night to see the "corridor of lights" followed by the always popular Public Workers Electric Light Parade, sponsored by Hawaiian Electric Company and Macy’s.
The parade will start at 6 p.m. in the Aala Park area and move down King Street. Dozens of decorated City vehicles, high school bands and sponsor floats, including two large Macy’s star balloons, will arrive at King and Punchbowl streets just as the City Christmas tree is illuminated at 6:30 p.m. Brother Wade of Hawaiian 105 KINE and Shannon Scott, Cox Radio on-air personality and promotions director, will announce the parade from a platform in front of Honolulu Hale.
Among the parade standouts this year will be the Environmental Services unit decorated with handpainted characters from "A Shark's Tale" and "Finding Nemo," Parks and Recreation featuring a paddler navigating a 20-foot canoe in a sea of lights and palm trees and the Handi-Van transformed into an X?Box 360 with life-size characters from the popular video games.
Watch for the spectacular Santa float created by Parade Man Nelson Fujio. Island families and visitors are welcome to visit with the city employees who have decorated their work vehicles for an hour after the parade ends. King Street will be closed between Punchbowl and Alapai/South streets from 4:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Because there’s such a large crowd lining King Street, an 11-foot screen will be set up near the Honolulu Hale stage so families can sit and watch the parade live from that vantage point.
Others are welcome to come inside the Honolulu Hale Courtyard at 6:30 p.m. to see the decorated Christmas trees made by City employees. Talented and creative members of the community will showcase their holiday wreaths in the Lane Gallery.
Children should look for the new Christmas coloring book with a recycling theme under the Environmental Services tree, which is one of 22 in the courtyard.
Santa can be found in the Mission Memorial Auditorium adjacent to Honolulu Hale. For those children visiting with Santa between 7:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., Hawaiian Telcom will be there to take free photos to mark the occasion. After 9 p.m., parents should use their own cameras to take photos with Santa.
You won’t want to miss the 7:30 p.m. holiday concert presented by Tihati Productions on a stage near Sky Gate. This year’s line-up includes Melveen Leed, Frank DeLima, Anuhea, Ballet Hawaii, PAC Kids and Company, the Polynesian Cultural Center.
There will be food booths in the area selling everything from hamburgers and hot dogs to Greek and Thai food. The Friends of Honolulu City Lights will have a booth fronting King Street selling their signature ornaments. This year’s ornaments and a souvenir t-shirt celebrate Santa’s Underwater Adventure theme.
The key sponsors of the 2012 Honolulu City Lights celebration include: First Hawaiian Bank, Macy’s, Hawaiian Electric Company, Kraft Foods Hawaii, John H. Connors Insurance, Hawaiian Airlines, Aloha Pacific Federal Credit Union, Cox Media Group, Leonard’s Bakery, Polynesian Cultural Center, Papa John’s Pizza and Tihati Productions.
Although the opening ceremonies start at 6:00 p.m., families are encouraged to come early to avoid the expected heavy traffic. Parking is available in the Civic Center Parking Structure (enter off Beretania Street) and at various parking garages in the area. At 4:00 p.m., food booths and keiki rides will open. Look for a special pirate ride this year.
If you can’t make it down to Honolulu Hale on opening night, tune in to Olelo Channel 55 to see the entire evening’s celebration live, starting at 6:00 p.m.
A one-hour parade special, sponsored by Hawaiian Electric Company, will air on KITV4 on Monday, Dec. 24, at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 29, at 2:00 p.m.
Islanders and visitors are welcome to come down to the civic center to see the lighted outdoor holiday displays and the City Christmas tree from Dec. 1 through New Year’s Day.
Honolulu City Lights’ sponsors have set up several free Special Nights during the month-long celebration:
- Dec. 14: Special Night showcasing Hanauma Bay, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., located under a tent on the ewa side of the Mission Memorial Auditorium, with keiki games and educational activities.
- Dec. 15 and 22: Kraft Foods Hawaii Special Nights featuring free photos with Santa in the Honolulu Hale Courtyard, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
- Dec. 21: Hawaii Foodservice Alliance presents free Milk and Cookies out front of Honolulu Hale, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
OPENING NIGHT TIMELINE (DECEMBER 1):
4:00 P.M. Food booths and keiki rides open
5:00 P.M. Kawaiahao Church Music Concert
6:00 P.M. Tree Lighting Ceremony followed by Electric Light Parade down King Street
6 - 9 P.M. Santa in the Mission Memorial Auditorium (large red brick building)
6:30 P.M. Honolulu Hale Courtyard opens for viewing of decorated trees and wreaths
7:30 P.M. Holiday concert at Sky Gate stage and parade vehicles park on King Street