Dueling parades next week
The nightly display of Honolulu city lights has been praised in song, but the city's special sparkle is even more magical during the holiday season.
And nowhere, perhaps, is the display more dramatic than around our island's marinas.
Every year, many boat owners become electronic artists as they find inventive ways to decorate their vessels with colorful strings of lights and other festive decorations.
Then, not content in having stationary art forms, these boaters join together one night each year and form floating parades in celebration of Christmas.
This Saturday there will be at least two such parades; one will travel from the Ala Wai Harbor to Honolulu Harbor and back, and one will circumnavigate the Hawaii Kai Marina.
As they have done for the past decade, the members of the Hawaii Yacht Club -- situated in the middle of the Ala Wai Harbor -- have invited all boaters to join them in their annual parade.
This year, the club's parade theme will be "Rock 'n' Surfin' Santa" and there are awards promised for categories that range from the '1960s Beach Boys Surfin' Santa' to the '1970s Disco Surfin' Santa.'
Because the parade is also a fund-raiser for the Harbor House -- a nonprofit organization that provides more than 70,000 meals a month to needy families -- there is a small entry fee, but that fee includes a buffet dinner at the HYC, where the awards are given out.
Honolulu Harbor's Aloha Tower Marketplace will be a particularly good site for viewing this parade, as it will be presenting live entertainment, door prizes and free photos with Santa from 6 to 9 p.m.
For those who live in East Honolulu, the Hawaii Towne Center will be hosting the ninth annual Festival of Lights Boat Parade, which is sponsored by the Hawaii Kai Marina Community Association.
The parade will run through the protected waters of Hawaii Kai from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., but there will be live entertainment beginning at 4:30 p.m., with the musical group Maunalua on the waterfront stage, along with radio personality Mike Buck as the master of ceremonies.
This year's celebrity judges will include Nainoa Thompson, Kathy Muneno and City Councilman Charles Djou, who will have the difficult task of picking the best-decorated vessels.
But, as there is no special theme for the parade (last year's winner -- out of 31 entrants -- featured an erupting volcano surrounded by hula dancers), boat owners have no limits other than their imaginations.
They, too, will be asked for a small entry fee, but every skipper gets a free official parade T-shirt.
For anyone who hasn't taken part in or watched a Christmas boat parade, I can't advise it more enthusiastically, but there is one problem with these two parades. As they are being run nearly simultaneously, you will have to pick one or the other.
is a free-lance writer based in Honolulu. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org