Waimea Christmas Parade – A Cherished Holiday Island Tradition
The holidays are right around the corner and that means it’s time for one of the most beloved community events on the Big Island – the Waimea Christmas Parade! Now in its 56th year, the Waimea Christmas Parade is the second oldest parade in the state. Always held on the first Saturday in December, this year’s parade will be held from 5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. and its theme is “Starlight Christmas.” With its signature lighted trucks and Santa float, this parade is a true community event involving dozens of groups from across the island ranging in age from keiki (children) to kupuna (seniors).
Signature Lighted Trucks – Photo courtesy of Waimea Community Center
Waimea’s cooler temps and plentiful pine trees make it feel like wintertime – even though we are in Hawaii. Be prepared to dress warm! It can get chilly at night in Waimea – think sweaters, coats, and hats. That’s part of the parade’s appeal – the cooler temps help make it feel more like Christmas.
Winter on the Big Island – Snowcapped Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa
Residents from across the island make the drive to Waimea every year to attend the Waimea Christmas Parade. It’s really a family tradition for many all over the island. Over the years, other community events have sprung up on the same day and if you don’t live in Waimea, you’ll want to make a day of it.
There are several craft fairs across downtown Waimea on parade day. The craft fair at Parker Ranch Shopping Center is particularly busy, featuring dozens of local artisans selling local art, handmade items, and products, and there are usually also craft fairs at Thelma Parker Gym (next to the library) and in the KTA Shopping Center. There are some very talented artists at these craft fairs and you’ll find items that make ideal holiday gifts.
Waimea parade draws residents from across the island – Photo courtesy of Waimea Community Center
The parade starts at Church Row, and will turn right onto Mamalahoa Highway thru town center, then turn right onto Lindsey Road at the main intersection, passing Parker School to disband in Waimea Town Park. Ten narrator locations dot the parade route from beginning to end, including in front of Ace Hardware, Bank of Hawaii corner, W.M. Keck Observatory among others. Bear in mind that Mamalahoa Highway shuts down to through traffic shortly before the parade, and only emergency vehicles will be let through until the parade finishes.
Santa!! – Photo courtesy of West Hawaii Today
If you have kids or grandkids, you can visit with Santa at Parker Ranch Center immediately after the parade and have a free picture taken with him.
Stargazers will want to stick around after the parade for the annual Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) Stargazing Party. The free stargazing party starts at 7 p.m., immediately following the parade and is held on the CFHT front lawn, 65-1238 Mamalahoa Highway. Enjoy hot beverages, keiki activities, and the chance to talk to astronomers. For more info on the CFHT Stargazing Party call 808.885.3121 or email email@example.com.
In the spirit of the season, parade organizers encourage parade participants and spectators to support the Big Island Giving Tree, a charitable organization that helps island families and kupuna year round.
For more information on the Waimea Christmas Parade, go to WaimeaTown.org.
See you at the parade!
Julie Keller, RB