Honolulu City Lights Spread Holiday Spirit


Jenny Paleracio

Oahu’s city lights parade showcases the aloha spirit mingled with holiday cheer.

For the past three years that I have lived on Oahu, I’ve missed the Honolulu City Lights parade and instead would spend the night studying for finals.  

The idea of enjoying the holidays during December seemed absurd because school understandably got in the way of sipping holiday drinks, like a peppermint mocha, and preparing a Christmas tree with ornaments.  

Since this is my last Christmas in Oahu, I made it a priority to attend the opening night of the lights parade at Honolulu Hale, on Saturday, Dec. 2. The opening night was filled with festivities like the lighting of the city holiday tree, the wreath display in the Lane Gallery, and free photos with Santa in the Memorial Mission Auditorium. 

The sidewalks along South King St. were filled with families eager to get a good viewing spot. Festive string lights that twinkled in red, blue, green and yellow were wrapped around trees all over Honolulu Hale.  

Mini carnival rides, food and souvenir booths surrounded the area on South King Street while families and couples walked around admiring the festive decorations. 

Back home on Kauai, holiday decorations and bright twinkling lights are rarely a sight because it’s such a small island. The Kukui Grove shopping mall on Kauai is empty all year and Christmas season is no exception.  

The city holiday tree is adorned with wreaths and silver stars.

In comparison, Oahu upstages Kauai’s decorations and holiday spirit. The humongous block figures near the street spelled out “Mele Kalikimaka” in capital letters caught my attention because every decoration piece was humongous.  

The parade reminded me of the Lights on Rice parade back home that I participated in every year during high school. 

Except this time, everything on Oahu was grand because of the tall trees adorned with twinkling lights and the big crowds of people filling the streets to watch the parade. 

Being surrounded by toddlers who believed in Santa helped me to get into the holiday cheer. I found myself acting like a little kid when I squeezed my way through the crowd to be closer to the parade. Surprisingly I was excited to see if Santa would show up strolling through the street. Although I wasn’t allowed to ride on the keiki rides, the $4 chocolate covered bananas at the food booth restored my disappointed mood. The Honolulu City Lights parade felt like a Christmas carnival.  

Some participants walked along the street singing Christmas songs while others rode in cars and trolleys, waving and sharing the Aloha Christmas spirit. 

Jenny Paleracio
String lights were wrapped around the trees at the parade.

Despite the lack of snow and the presence of rain, the Honolulu City Lights parade brought a sense of holiday spirit to the Honolulu Hale area.  

My mood during the holidays usually was bland because of the arrival of final exams and stressful study sessions in the library, but being able to go outside and finally attend a Christmas parade filled me with giddiness and excitement for the winter holidays.  

The families walking around the parade made me miss home but also reminded me of the possibilities and joy that a huge city, like Honolulu, can offer.  

Attending the Honolulu City Lights parade helped kick off the last month of the year, and has convinced me to come back if I ever return to Oahu during the holidays.