The Charm Of Honolulu City Lights

Mufi Hannemann
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December 14, 2011 | Hawaiian Airlines Discount Share

Thousands of people packed the front lawn of City Hall and lined King Street Dec. 3 for the annual Honolulu City Lights and Public Workers Electric Light Parade, which has delighted young and old alike for 27 years.

Two weeks earlier, folks on the Windward side enjoyed their own City Lights festivities in downtown Kaneohe, while on Dec. 10, residents of West Oahu celebrated Kapolei City Lights with a tree-lighting ceremony and parade.

City Lights has grown and evolved since it was created by Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi nearly 30 years ago. His successor, Mayor Jeremy Harris, expanded the event to Kapolei Hale in recognition of the growth of that region. And during my term in office, I created the Windward City Lights festivities to bring Christmas cheer to residents from Kailua to Kaneohe and beyond.

Today, thousands of people take in the tree-lighting ceremonies and parades, while thousands more, including busload after busload of excited children, will visit the displays of trees, wreaths and holiday decorations in Honolulu Hale and the Fasi Civic Center grounds, open all day to 11 p.m. until Jan. 2.

On Kauai, the county hosts the Festival of Lights at the Historic County Building. This year’s event, which Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. opened Dec. 2, marks the 15th year of this holiday celebration. The Lights on Rice Parade, music, art, decorations and a host of other activities have all become part of this event, which I know attracts many people to the color and pageantry of Christmas, Kauaistyle. The festival is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m. until Christmas Eve.

Former Mayor Frank Fasi and wife Joyce join Mayor Mufi Hannemann and wife Gail atHonolulu Hale for the ceremonial lighting of the Honolulu City Lights Christmas tree, December 2005. Photos courtesy City and County of Honolulu

After so many years, Honolulu City Lights and other celebrations have become must-sees for residents, and another reason to visit for many travelers. Among those attending the treelighting and parade or strolling through Honolulu Hale for the tree and wreath displays, are visitors from all over the world, many of whom make special plans to enjoy the spectacle of an island-style Christmas celebration.

Having met and spoken to a great many of them during my time at City Hall, I know how much they enjoy what we have to offer. They come from all over the Mainland, Japan and elsewhere, many of them surprised to see that we have one of the best celebrations around. In my capacity with the hotel industry, I hear how our holiday attractions draw visitors to our shores at this time of year.

The holidays are a time of gratitude, and I used the annual City Lights celebrations as opportunities to show our appreciation to those who uplifted and inspired us. Joining my wife Gail and me onstage for the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas trees have been the late Mayor Fasi and wife Joyce, U.S. Sen. and Mrs. Dan Inouye, the late Chief of Police Michael Nakamura, the University of Hawaii’s Sugar Bowl football team, the late Council Chairwoman Barbara Marshall, veterans of the Iraq conflict and others. It was a first-time experience for Inouye, while Fasi told me it was the first time he had been part of the ceremony since leaving office.

No people deserve more appreciation than the city workers, volunteers, Friends of Honolulu City Lights and business sponsors who make this possible. They work tirelessly throughout the year to ensure the success of these events.

Christmas is my favorite time of year because of festivities like these. It’s a time of giving and sharing, and I take so much joy in seeing the looks on the faces of family especially the children, friends and strangers alike as they celebrate Christmas and all that it represents.


Linda Higa

Position: Maintenance Person
Location: Waikiki Parc Hotel

Linda Higa wears two hats as the engineering department’s administrative assistant and maintenance person for Waikiki Parc Hotel.

When she dons her administrative assistant’s cap, Linda handles the department’s scheduling, payroll, purchasing and work-order functions. But Linda also puts on a hard hat to respond to emergency repairs, paint guest rooms and other areas of the hotel, or help her boss replace a burntout sewer pump. She’s even been known to climb into ceiling crawl spaces to insert cables and wiring and not just because she’s the only one tiny enough to fit in those narrow places.

Linda has earned numerous commendations over the years for her performance. She participates in hotel activities and the Visitor Industry Charity Walk and Aloha United Way. She’s done the Honolulu Marathon, is a regular on the Great Aloha Run, is a registered bone marrow donor, and still finds time to bake cakes and other treats for her coworkers.


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