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Hilo Christmas parade returns in full glory on Nov. 26

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A glorious glow of thousands of twinkling and steadily shining bright lights will again bathe Downtown Hilo in holiday spirit on Saturday with the return of a yuletide tradition.

The Hilo Christmas Lights Parade returns this weekend. Photo from Hilo Christmas Lights Parade website.

Nearly 40 entries and more than 700 people will ring in the most wonderful time of the year, marching, driving, riding or walking while ablaze in festive fashion during the 2022 Hilo Christmas Lights Parade.

The procession roars into the holidays at 6 p.m. on Nov. 26. It starts at Pauahi Street and then strolls through downtown before returning on Kamehameha Avenue.

There are five other Christmas parades around the Big Island. They are listed at the end of this story.

After two years off because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade’s new organizers, the East Hawai‘i Lions Clubs, are excited to have a more significant role in the event. Jeff Dansdill, the parade’s coordinator, said the Lions helped with staging the event in the past. After speaking with the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association, the parade’s previous organizer, they were given the opportunity to take the reins.

Hilo Christmas Lights Parade route (in bold). Screenshot from parade website.

“The East Hawai‘i Lions Clubs take on a number of important projects serving the community throughout the year,” said Dansdill. “The parade is a fun project that we are organizing to bring holiday cheer to the community.”

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This year’s parade will feature a wide variety of entries from marching bands and beauty queens to classic cars and community organizations. Those participating include Hawai‘i County Mayor Mitch Roth, the Hawai‘i County Band, Hawai‘i County Classic Cruizers, Hilo Visayan Club, Kea‘au Cougar Marching Band. Grandpa’s Garbage Patrol, Kona Transportation, Hilo High School Viking Band, Waiākea High School Band, National Guard Youth Challenge Academy and Hawai‘i Horse Owners. The 2022 grand marshal is Hawai‘i Lions District 50 Gov. Gary Nip.

“We feel it is a great turnout and are thrilled by the level of interest in the parade by the community,” Dansdill said.

Those who are watching from the busy city sidewalks decked in holiday style will also get the chance to vote online for the best entries by using a QR code on their smartphones. Categories will be walkers, marching bands, small floats and large floats.

The entry in each category with the most votes will receive a certificate and recognition on the parade website, social media and via traditional Big Island media outlets. Winners will be announced this weekend.

Dansdill said a lighted parade is a unique holiday experience, giving entries a chance to go all out and decorate their floats with lights and holiday cheer. It also offers those watching an illuminating way to celebrate the season.

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“Having the lights shows things up so well in the dark,” one community member commented on a video of the 2019 Hilo Christmas parade posted publicly Nov. 30, 2019, on Facebook by Ken Boyer.

A video posted Nov. 28, 2016, on YouTube by OutThere2See titled “My Hilo Christmas Light Parade” offers a short look at the parade “that warms the heart of its people.”

The Lions are honored to bring back the holiday tradition — always the first among the Christmas parades around the island — and appreciate the support they have received in their first year of organizing the event. They are thrilled that the Hilo community will be coming together to enjoy the magic of the holiday season by watching and participating.

The parade is a joint project between the Lions Clubs in East Hawai‘i, which include the Akaka Falls Lions Club, Hilo Crescent City Lions Club, Hilo Lions Club and Waiākea Lions Club. The Leos Clubs from Hilo High School, Waiākea High School and Hilo Crescent City club will also assist with the event.

For more information, visit the parade website or find the event on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. To contact the parade committee, email [email protected].

Other Christmas parades

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Hilo is the just first Big Island community to host a Christmas parade this year. Other parades include:

28th annual Pāhoa Holiday Parade
When: 9:30 a.m. Dec. 3
Where: Pahoa

62nd annual Christmas Twilight Parade
When: 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3
Where: Waimea

36th annual Kailua-Kona Community Christmas Parade
When: 5 p.m. Dec. 10
Where: Kailua-Kona

19th annual Kea‘au Lighted Christmas Parade
When: 6 p.m. Dec. 10
Where: Kea‘au

Seventh annual Lighted Boat Parade
When: 6 p.m. Dec. 11
Where: Kailua-Kona

Photos from the 2017 Hilo Christmas Lights Parade by Nathan Christophel/Big Island Now.

Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel has more than 20 years of experience in journalism, starting out as a reporter and working his way up to become a copy editor and page designer, most recently at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo.
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