KAILUA-KONA — The streets of Kailua Village were filled with eager anticipation for the start of the annual Kailua-Kona Community Christmas Parade Saturday evening.
Keiki and parents, young and old, visitors and locals all lined Kuakini Highway and Alii Drive for the most anticipated parade of the year.
As the participants gathered at the Kekuaokalani Gym parking lot for the start of festivities, they made last-minute adjustments to floats, checked lights, and prepared bags of candy to hand out along the parade route.
Pablo Penaloza gathered families for the Alaka‘i Academy float. The preschool wanted to enter the parade to be a part of a community event. Besides it being fun for the keiki to participate in a parade, Penaloza said, it also gave the staff and students’ families a chance to get together outside the work environment.
Waiting for the start, TJ and Cybil Tanoue set up their chairs on the grass with their two children, Neveah, 3, and Aiden, 5. The Honokaa family said they came to last year’s parade — and liked it so much they wanted to come back.
“It’s such a good, big parade. Kona’s the best,” TJ said.
Aiden chimed in that his favorite part of Christmas, besides the presents, was Santa’s elf Snowflake. “She’s magic,” he said.
The excitement grew as the police vehicles turned on their lights and escorted the first entries onto Kuakini Highway.
There was something for everyone as the entries passed by — floats, cars and canoes were decorated, music was plentiful, and keiki had an abundance of candy thrown at them.
The Christmas spirit shone through in abundance.
As the sun slowly set, vehicles lit the twilight sky with a holiday twinkle.
Ooohs and ahhs were plentiful and shouts of “Merry Christmas” echoed through the town with each passing entry.
“Look, here comes the choo-choo,” a child yelled in delight as the HELCO Toys for Tots train provided a synchronized light show and Christmas melodies in its slow advance.
Almost 90 minutes after the parade’s start, Santa and Mrs. Claus wrapped up the festivities with waves and hearty wishes of Merry Christmas.
Tia Yagi of Waikoloa was packing up her two children to head back to her vehicle. “We were in town and saw the signs and decided to check it out,” she said. This was her first time attending the Kona parade. “This is the longest parade I have seen. This was all last-minute, not part of the plan, but was so worth it.”
Her son Kainoa, 5 chimed in that the best part of the parade was getting all the candy. And the lights. He really liked the lights.
“We will come back next year,” she said.
Nonprofit — The Food Basket
Marching — Kealakehe Elementary Keiki Ensemble
Float — HELCO
Keiki — Innovations Public Charter Schools
Commercial — Randal’s Dance Fitness
Judges’ Special — Japanese Social Club of Kona
Best Use of Them — Kai Ehitu Canoe Club
Best in Lights — HELCO
Crowd Pleaser — Bay City Rockers
Special Discretionary Award — Innovations Public Charter Schools