• Lucas Koranda

Waimea Holiday Festivities During Covid-19

After another long year of masks, social distancing, and pandemic frustration, the Waimea community has recently bonded together over the return of beloved holiday traditions and the introduction of some new festivities as well! From parades to theatrical performances and more, there have been so many opportunities to join in on the holiday cheer. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had the honor of participating in many of these local activities. I’d love to share some of my most memorable experiences of good tidings, joy, and smiles by friends and family of all ages.


On the evening of December 4th, the Waimea Community Association hosted the annual Christmas Twilight Parade. This year’s parade marked the 60th anniversary of this Waimea tradition and, because of this, many of the parade floats were “A 60s Christmas” themed. Unlike previous years, this year’s event functioned as a drive-through, which meant that families would drive along the parade route and admire the stationary, decorated floats parked on the side of the road.


As an employee of W. M. Keck Observatory, I aided in composing their recreation of the 1969 moon landing with lights and inflatable decorations. As part of a Keck tradition, we also had an employee dressed up as the “Kecky Bear,” a teddy bear mascot dressed in a lab coat. While it was difficult to see faces from the dark interiors of car cabins, we heard lots of “oohs,” “aahs,” and “Happy Holidays!”


The Waimea Twilight Parade drew in spectators from all over the island, causing lots of traffic and congestion throughout the entire town. With the beginning of the parade route starting on Ala Ohia Rd. near the entrance to the Waimea District Park, traffic was backed up past the Waimea-Kohala Airport southbound and the Minit Stop gas station northbound, as some reports estimate. Although the parade was scheduled to end at 9 PM, most of the floats stayed past 10:30 PM so that spectators waiting 3+ hours could experience the event.


Photo by Mari-Ela Chock

Keck employees enjoy the Keck/CFH float at the Waimea Twilight Parade.


Photo by Mari-Ela Chock

In honor of the 60th anniversary of the Waimea Twilight Parade, the Keck float depicted the 1969 moon landing.


During the Twilight Parade, I ventured over to Parker School to explore the Winter Wonderland Drive Thru on campus. This non-denominational event featured seven winter scenes including a Senior Snowball Fight hosted by the Senior class, a decorated Roberts Hawaii school bus, and tire snowmen, courtesy of Lex Brodie’s Tires. Spectators would drive around Parker’s parking lot roundabout, stopping at every scene and admiring the intricacies of the decorations.


Sponsored by Roberts Hawaii Tours, Lex Brodie’s Tires, Parker School’s PTSO, SmartHomes Hawaii, and Oye Construction, Parker’s Winter Wonderland was the first independent event hosted during the holiday season. With congestion from the Twilight Parade, it was sometimes difficult for cars to maneuver through town and get to Parker’s event without forfeiting their spot in line for the Twilight Parade. That being said, the Winter Wonderland attracted some spectators from the community, and those who joined in on the fun enjoyed no line and no rush through the roundabout.


All in all, the evening of December 4th offered lots of exciting festivities for all to enjoy!


Photo by Lucas Koranda

Parker School seniors gather around their Senior Snowball Fight float.


Photo by Lucas Koranda

Float decorations included lights, signs, inflatables, and recycled materials.


From December 9th to December 12th, W. M. Keck Observatory teamed up with the Big Island Giving Tree and hosted Santa Claus from the North Pole in an interactive drive-in experience called Santa Live. This Covid-safe event ran up to five shows a night, on-the-hour from 5 PM to 9 PM. The production featured song and dance performances, a snow machine, a 30-foot inflatable Santa Claus, and special appearances by the Grinch and the Kecky Bear!


As a fundraiser to help Big Island families experiencing unfortunate circumstances, this event brought children lots of holiday cheer while also making a difference in the community. From the gigantic transportable stage to the 30 foot television, it was clear that Santa Live was an elaborate production brought over from Oahu.


I volunteered at Santa Live on the evenings of December 9th and 10th. From scanning tickets to passing out tchotchkes, glowsticks, candy, wristbands, pencils, and more, we were extremely busy and always on the clock preparing for the next show. Volunteering and witnessing families laugh and smile throughout the production reminded me that even during a global pandemic, the holiday season can bring cheer and joy for everyone.


Photo by Lucas Koranda

The Grinch and “Kecky Bear” take a break from the holiday fun at Santa Live!


In this ever-changing pandemic world of ours, coming together to celebrate the holiday season has put a difficult task on organizers, but not an impossible task. Covid-19 has fostered a renewed sense of innovation when it comes to event planning, and our community’s ability to adapt and overcome obstacles has once again proven the resilience and unity of Waimea and the Big Island. Thank you to all of the community leaders and volunteers who helped put on these holiday celebrations, you are all making a difference one smile at a time.



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