Kona Christmas House Brings Joy, Magic to Big Island Community
December 24, 2021, 6:30 AM HST
* Updated December 25, 4:09 AM
The Kona Christmas House has become much more than a decorated yard for the holiday. It is a symbol of hope and joy for many Big Island residents as the community continues to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Long family is the creator of the magical environment that appears once a year in December at their home in Pualani Estates, located at 75-6202 Piena Place. Craig Long said his ‘ohana has been putting on the display for 16 years.
“Itʻs grown significantly from the small display to an interactive display,” Long told Big Island Now.
With nearly 30,000 lights strung up on trees and around the house, Long said several interactive elements help people engage the experience. Long wants people to come into his yard and step into the world of Christmas. With falling snow, the yard is adorned with various Christmas trees, a running train, motion-active elves and a fireplace with stockings of friends, neighbors and returning guests.
For Long and his family, their decorations are a reminder that there is still a lot of good things happening in the community.
“I do know when they come to our house they feel a little bit better,” Long said of guests.
On any given night when the display is up, Long estimates 100 to 120 people walk through his yard and another 60 to 70 cars pass by. The last night of the display is Dec. 30. The lights are on from 6-9 p.m.
“The need for what we do is strong,” he said. “The fact that we have the ability to bring hope to people is a blessing to us.”
Long said visitors to the Kona Christmas House have strong emotional connections to the display.
Rebekah Keiser is one of many longtime visitors to the house. She said sheʻs been taking her kids for the past 10 years to experience the magic and joy their yard brings.
Keiser noted that something is added to the yard every year, and that Long has Christmas music that is synced up with the lights as they flash. She recalls Long letting kids DJ music during their visits.
“They give out hot cocoa and candy canes for people, they just go all out,” Keiser said.
The onset of the pandemic in March 2020 changed day-to-day life with travel and health restrictions as well as massive job loss and closure of businesses. However, that didnʻt stop Long from creating his world of Christmas.
Keiser said decorations were spread out through several neighbors’ yards to allow for social distancing.
“I think it added stability through the turmoil we’ve all been walking through,” Keiser said of the Kona Christmas House. “This year it’s like bringing back some normalcy to our lives. It’s still here; it’s not or lost or forgotten.”
The Kona Christmas House is simply spectacular, Keiser added.
“Seeing kids witness it is spectacular because you see the joy and magic in their eyes,” she said. “I think it’s special for them to put this on.”