On Lanai, the holiday spirit is about more than presents and decorations. On the first Saturday of every December, the community gathers for the lighting of the Christmas tree in front of the old Dole Administration building on Lanai Avenue. The ceremony is a time-honored island tradition that has continued for more than 20 years.
For Kay Okamoto, the president of Lanai Community Association (LCA), the tradition is so ingrained in the holiday festivities that it’s hard to pinpoint the exact year when it started. “It all started with Santa in the Park,” she recalled. “We’ve been doing this for a long time.”
Santa and other fun festivities
LCA organizes the annual event, which runs from 2–7 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 2.
The afternoon festivities include live entertainment — music, dancing and hula performances — along with crafts, food and activities for keiki. One of the main attractions is Santa Claus, who arrives with great fanfare riding in the back of a Lanai Fire Station pickup truck.
“Santa will come and bring goodie bags for the kids,” explained Okamoto. Keiki will be able to meet Santa, take a photo and tell him their Christmas wishes.
“Everyone wants to get a photo on their phone, which makes it easier to share the pictures,” said Okamoto. “So remember to bring your camera!”
The main event: Lighting the tree
The Christmas tree in front of the Admin building will get the star treatment, courtesy of the Coalition for a Drug-Free Lanai (CDFL). The organization brings together various groups and volunteers to lovingly decorate the tree with ornaments and lights.
As the sun sets, the crowd gathers for the tree lighting ceremony, which is the highlight of the event. When the twinkling lights flicker on, it feels like the holiday season on Lanai has truly begun.
Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Saturday, Dec. 2