Several Norfolk pine trees on a Pali Highway hillside near Kapaa Quarry Road, including these seen yesterday, have been adorned with Christmas decorations in an annual practice since 1979. Area politicians, community members and the police do not know who decorates the trees.

Kailua trees dressed
in holiday cheer

7 pine trees along Pali Highway
get into the spirit with
Christmas ornaments

By Pat Omandam

One 35-foot-high Norfolk pine is covered from top to bottom with yellow happy faces made of wood.

Traditional Christmas ornaments, including a silver Star of David, decorate another 35-foot-high pine.

The Christmas holiday season has officially begun, on a hillside on the Pali Highway just town-side of Kapaa Quarry Road.

For about 20 years the holiday decorations appearing on a grove of pine trees around this time of the year have been a cherished signal for the holiday season.

Area politicians, community members and even the police say they do not know who decorates these trees every year. But that is a moot point. No one really minds the roadside distractions.

"I think it's just a creative way of saying happy holidays to those of us who drive the Pali every day," said longtime Kaneohe state Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kaneohe).

"And it's usually done when people don't see who's doing it. I think that's part of the way it happens."

Thielen said the practice began with one little Norfolk pine, and it has now grown to a dozen trees of all sizes.

Seven trees were dressed in Christmas cheer yesterday, including the two 35-footers. Not all the decorations fit the holiday theme.

A 10-foot-tall tree was covered by a white T-shirt with the peculiar phrase "Star Dums Wreck Chords" painted on it. Also hung was a large, homemade banner that read, 'We Love and Miss You Mom, 'Tutu.'"

According to Star-Bulletin news articles, an unnamed Windward family secretly planted a Norfolk pine in 1979 on the graded slope off the town-bound side of the Pali.

Someone decorated the tree, starting an annual ritual. In 1983, vandals hacked off the tree's limbs and dumped the decorations, but the traditional survived.

The pine grew back. And soon more Norfolk pines appeared on the slope, and many continue to be decorated for the holidays.

Today, the only clue to who planted these trees is on a small, green sign at the base of one of the taller pine trees on the upper slope.

It reads, "Planted 1989, Patty, Jeri and Nicole."

"It's just one of those Kailua traditions," said Kathy M. Bryant-Hunter, chairwoman of the Kailua Neighborhood Board.

Bryant-Hunter said that on Wednesday she saw about six people decorating trees there in broad daylight, so the people who do it are not clandestine about their identity.

And as far as she knows, the neighborhood board has never considered the decorations a problem. Neither do police, who warn that it is dangerous to park alongside that busy highway.

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