The holiday season kicks off in Hilo tonight with the 34th annual Downtown Hilo Christmas Light Parade, the first of several parades taking to Big Island streets this month.
With a theme of “Paniolo Christmas,” the parade starts at 6 p.m. and will take a “reverse route” through downtown, traveling down Kamehameha Avenue, taking a left onto Waianuenue Avenue, left onto Keawe Street and left on Pauahi Street.
Parade coordinator Lani Walters, who expected 2018 to be her last year coordinating parade, stepped in this fall to assist with planning this year after it was turned over to another organization.
“I always felt that the downtown Hilo parade, it’s the opening of our holiday season,” Walters said. “… It kind of opens it up for our island.”
Walters, who said it’s been a struggle to keep the parade going financially, said she and a few others have stepped up to ensure the parade continues and is “trying to keep it going until someone can step in.”
Considering the size and the length of the route, she said the parade draws “a nice crowd.”
Those interested in participating have until 3 p.m. today to register. There is no cost to participate.
For more information, find Downtown Hilo Christmas Light Parade on Facebook.
The 26th annual Pahoa holiday parade, presented by Mainstreet Pahoa Association, kicks off at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 7.
Vehicles and groups will line up on Apaa Road beginning at 8 a.m., and the parade will travel down Pahoa Village Road before ending at Pahoa High and Intermediate School.
The focus is on keiki.
“It’s a community gathering done really (with) the kids in mind,” parade committee member Dean Kelley said.
This year’s theme is “We are Hawaii.”
Kelley said, “especially given the awareness of the Hawaiian people, ‘We are Hawaii’ made sense for (the committee) this year.”
Grand marshal is Mark Henshaw, who Kelly said has been instrumental in starting “some of the Pahoa organizations that try to build community spirit.”
A hoolaulea will be held at the high school after.
The 59th annual Waimea Christmas Twilight Parade is 5:30-7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7.
“I think it’s important that we continue this tradition because it’s something not only enjoyed by people of the Waimea community, (it is) something enjoyed islandwide,” said Lani Olsen-Chong, who co-chairs the parade committee.
Mamalahoa Highway through Waimea will be closed during that time for the parade and only emergency vehicles will be allowed to pass.
Olsen-Chong said the parade begins at Church Row, travels along Mamalahoa Highway through the main town and turns right onto Lindsey Road before ending at Waimea Park.
The theme, “Our Community … Our Kuleana at Christmas and Always,” was chosen because the community has been experiencing vandalism and theft, she said, adding, “the idea around this theme is our community is our kuleana because we care about our community … It’s a theme that can be taken back to every community because everyone should be concerned about what happens in their community. You live there. It’s your kuleana to help care for it.”
Former County Councilman Leningrad Elarionoff will serve as grand marshal.
The 41st annual Pahala Christmas Parade is slated for 1 p.m. Dec. 8.
The route begins at the Armory, travels along Koali Street, stopping at Ka‘u Hospital and Rural Health Clinic, and continues onto Kamani Street, Pikake Street, Pakalana Street and Huapala Street, before ending at Pahala Holy Rosary Church.
Santa will take free photos with keiki after the parade.
The 35th annual Kailua-Kona Community Christmas Parade kicks off at 5 p.m. Dec. 14 in Kailua-Kona village.
The theme of this year’s parade, which is presented by the Rotary Clubs of West Hawaii and The Kailua-Kona Community Parade Association, is “Ho‘olaule‘a Kalikimaka Ko Kona, ‘Kona‘s Christmas Celebration!’”
“We are looking forward to many festive floats, community groups and local business entries sharing in the event,” parade co-chair Renee Kraft said.
The parade starts at Kekuaokalani Gym and heads down Kuakini Highway to Alii drive and proceeds to the Royal Kona Resort.
Announcer station locations and more information can be found at paradesinkona.com.
The 16th annual Keaau Lighted Christmas Parade begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 14 at Keaau High School.
The parade starts at Keaau High School and will travel about a mile into Keaau village, parade committee president Stan Gapol said.
The theme of “A Plantation Christmas” honors Hawaii’s plantation past. Gapol said Keaau was one of the thriving plantation communities.
Grand marshal is Pedro “Pete” Haspe, a 96-year-old former plantation worker.
Co-grand marshal will be the Hawaii Pony League champions.
Gapol said the parade, which has long been supported by the W.H. Shipman company and is funded through donations from various organizations and businesses, “pulls the community together, it really does.”
Email Stephanie Salmons at email@example.com.