Hilo Christmas parade is Saturday with about 55 entries bringing holiday cheer

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Waiākea Water lit up one of its semi-tractor trailer tanker trucks last year to bring holiday joy to the Big Island. It’s first stop was the 2022 Downtown Hilo Christmas Light Parade. (Courtesy of Josh Delary/Waiākea Water)

Last year, Waiākea Water of Hilo, through its Kokua Initiative, lit up a company water tanker’s semi-tractor trailer from front to back — and even underneath — with more than 10,000 mostly blue and white string Christmas lights.

The Big Island’s version of the lighted and decorated semi-tractor trailer seen in Coca-Cola holiday commercials was driven around the island, spreading holiday cheer.

“Seeing people’s faces and the joy it brings to them just brings us happiness,” said Josh Delary, the water bottling company’s Director of Production.

The truck’s first outing was in last year’s Downtown Hilo Christmas Light Parade, which for 30 years has kicked off the island’s Christmas parade season the weekend after Thanksgiving.


This year, the Christmas Light Parade starts at 6 p.m. on Saturday, with a crowd of between 5,000 and 7,000 expected to pack Downtown Hilo.

The parade will feature at least 55 entries, including one by Waiākea Water that Delary promises to be bigger and brighter than last year’s. All will be rocking the theme: “Lighting the Christmas Spirit.”

Taking part will be several school’s marching bands, floats of all sizes, walking units from groups throughout the community, motorcades and custom cars, beauty queens, public officials and the Grand Marshal, Hawai‘i Lions District Gov. CJ Kalopodes.

  • The Leilani Estates Neighborhood Watch float from the 2022 Downtown Hilo Christmas Light Parade. (Courtesy photo)
  • The front of the Waiākea Water semi-tractor trailer water tanker truck that was lit up last year and entered in the Downtown Hilo Christmas Light Parade. (Courtesy of Josh Delary/Waiākea Water)
  • Hilo Medical Center staff walk in the 2022 Downtown Hilo Christmas Light Parade. (Courtesy photo)
  • Another look at the Waiākea Water semi-tractor trailer water tanker that was lit up last year to spread holiday cheer around the Big Island. (Courtesy of Josh Delary/Waiākea Water)
  • The Hawai‘i Community Federal Credit Union float from the 2022 Downtown Hilo Christmas Light Parade. (Courtesy photo)

Santa also will take a break from his busy schedule at the North Pole to make an appearance.


This is the second year the Lions Clubs have been in charge of the parade. About 20 volunteers from clubs throughout East Hawai‘i have worked together to plan the event. At least 70 volunteers and friends of the clubs will help on parade day.

East Hawai‘i Lions Clubs include Akaka Falls Lions Club, Hilo Crescent City Lions Club, Hilo Lions Club, Hilo Hawai‘i Lions Unlimited Club and the Waiākea Lions Club. d

Ali Akamine, a member of the Akaka Falls Lions Club and the Downtown Hilo Christmas Light Parade committee, remembers watching the parade in front of her mother’s office on Keawe Street in the 1960s and ’70s. She said it’s always been a magical experience.

“We share holiday cheer with our community and bring people together for a couple of hours to share this community event, and hopefully get some candy,” Akamine said. “The parade is a fun event, bringing joy to people during this time of year. The lights always make it special, but what makes it more fulfilling is seeing all the smiles along the parade route.”


This year, because of ongoing road construction, the parade will start on Kamehameha Avenue at Pauahi Street, turn left at Waiānuenue Avenue and then left onto Kino‘ole Street, instead of Keawe Street as was the case in past years.

The route will proceed to Ponahawai Street, where marchers will turn left and head back to Kamehameha, and then make their way back to where they started at Pauahi.

Parking will not be allowed from 4:30 to 9 p.m. on either side of the portion of Waiānuenue that is part of the parade route. The entire route will be closed to through traffic during the same time period, although it could open sooner if the parade ends earlier. Kamehameha traffic will be detoured onto Bayfront Highway.

Delary is Waiākea Water’s in-house Clark Griswold, a character played by Chevy Chase in the 1989 movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” earning the title because of his love of everything Christmas.

But he wouldn’t go into details about the water bottling company’s float for this year’s parade, wanting it to be a surprise.

“Reaching out to our community during the holiday season, it’s just really heartwarming,” he said. “It’s very joyful to know that we’re able to do this.”

Volunteers from Waiākea Water work on this year’s entry for the Downtown Hilo Christmas Light Parade. (Courtesy of Josh Delary/Waiākea Water)
Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel is a full-time reporter with Pacific Media Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism as a reporter, copy editor and page designer. He previously worked at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo. Nathan can be reached at [email protected]
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