This year marks the 18th Annual Festival of Lights on Kauai. This not-for-profit event is Kauai’s largest holiday event and is centered around Christmas folk art – decorations created from recycled materials. New for 2014 is the “Lure of the Sea” tree, created with recycled aluminum cans and recycled containers.
18th Annual Festival of Lights
Historic County Building
4396 Rice Street, Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii 96766
Opening Night: Friday, December 5, 2014
Last Night: December 27, 2014 **also Open Christmas Eve**
Hours: Friday-Sunday, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Public Contact: Elizabeth Freeman, 808-639-8564, firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrate 40 years of Christmas folk art by the late Auntie Josie Chansky by visiting Festival of Lights and enjoying a huge variety of Christmas decorations including a Christmas tree made from 7,500 green toothpicks and wreaths created with egg cartons by Auntie Josie. Recent additions created by the local community include Kauai-style themed trees: SPAM, Hula Bear, Kilauea Lighthouse, Peacock and the nationally-recognized Aloha Recycled Treasures made from plastic water bottles. Other recent additions include the “If Can, Can” tree with recycled aluminum can ornaments and a dazzling “CD” tree with recycled CDs from S.C.R.A.P. (Scrounger’s Center for Reusable Art Parts) in San Francisco. New for 2014 is the “Lure of the Sea” tree, created by embossed recycled aluminum cans and recycled containers.
More than 5,000 people are expected to attend this year’s Opening Night on December 5 at the Historic County Building. The Festival begins at 6:00 p.m. with caroling by the Kauai Chorale. Next, Santa arrives and leads a spectacular Lighting Countdown of the hundreds of thousands of lights that will illuminate the Historic Park. The doors then officially open for viewing of the interior of the Historic County Building and its illuminated Christmas decorations. Not only will visitors see the spectacular decorations, they will also hear the beautiful voices of the Kauai Chorale. This is followed by the Lights on Rice Parade at 6:30 p.m., a unique showcase of island lighted floats. Festival of Lights runs through December 24. Visitors can enjoy the Christmas decorations within the Historic County Building between 6:00-8:00 p.m. every Friday-Sunday. Families can also visit Santa and Mrs. Claus. Docents will be present to provide background on the collection.
It all started more than 50 years ago by “Auntie” Josie Chansky, a folk artist born and raised on Kauai. It is because of her art and contribution to the people of the islands that Festival of Lights was created. For nearly 40 years, first on Oahu and then 18 years on Kauai, Auntie Josie opened her home to neighbors, strangers, tourists – everyone and anyone. People just started showing up on her lawn and then at her door. They wanted to see all the Christmas folk art decorations that she created and displayed on the outside and inside of her home. Auntie Josie’s home became known as “The Christmas House.” Generations of families began making “The Christmas House” part of their holiday traditions.
Auntie Josie’s husband passed away in 1996. Out of grief and the sad realization that she did not have the strength to put up all the decorations herself, Auntie Josie held a garage sale. Luckily, the loss of the “The Christmas House” to the community was recognized and her entire collection was saved by community member Elizabeth Freeman and donated to the County of Kauai. The first Festival of Lights was held in 1996, providing a public venue to display the decorations, and continues to be run by Freeman with funding by the County of Kauai, Office of Economic Development, Hawaii Tourism Authority, individuals and private businesses.
In 2006, Auntie Josie was honored by both the Senate and the Office of the Mayor for her 50 years of contribution to Hawaii’s holiday season. The Hawaii House of Representatives had also recognized her work in 1975. In 2006, Auntie Josie was honored with Proclamations by both Senator Hooser of the Hawaii State Legislature and Former Kauai Mayor Baptiste for her 50 years of contribution to Hawai‘i’s holiday season. A week before Auntie Josie’s passing on February 3, 2009, Kauai Mayor Carvalho also issued a Proclamation to Auntie Josie.
ABOUT ELIZABETH FREEMAN:
As an artist and designer Elizabeth Freeman was intent on creating a world of magical beauty for children and families. As the Festival of Lights’ creator and art director, Freeman has produced the event for 18 years to showcase Auntie Josie’s unique Folk Art creations as well as designing and overseeing the delightful “Kauai-style” decorations crafted by volunteers to fashion a Holiday tradition for Kauai uniquely her own. Festival of Lights represents about 35 percent of Auntie Josie’s decorations with the remaining pieces designed by Freeman. She relies on fantastic volunteers to make the ornaments based on her samples and with her materials.
Mahalo for your consideration!
Ka’anapali’s Wa’a Kiakahi Hawaiian canoe sailing festival
Kaua’i’s Festival of Lights
Kohala Coast Resort Association
Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau
Po’ipu Beach Resort Association