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Honolulu City Lights Searches for an Honoree to

Help Brighten Its 25th Year Anniversary

            (Friday, November 13, 2009) -- Who will have the honor of helping Mayor Mufi Hannemann and First Lady Gail Mukaihata-Hannemann flip the switch to light the City Christmas Tree at the annual tree lighting ceremony on December 5?


            The search is on as the Mayor, employees of the City and County of Honolulu and Friends of Honolulu City Lights prepare for the 25th anniversary of this island yuletide celebration.


            The winner will be chosen through a contest called, "Were you there on December 12, 1985?"  Members of the public are invited to submit a copy of a photograph or any article that proves they were present at the City's first official tree-lighting ceremony on that date.  Contestants should include a name, daytime phone number and a brief description of the photo or item (do not submit originals).  Participants can drop off their entries at any Satellite City Hall in the Tell it to the Mayor box or mail them to:


            25th Anniversary Were You There Contest

            The Friends of Honolulu City Lights

            P.O. Box 8877

            Honolulu, Hawaii 96830


            The contest deadline is Wednesday, November 25, at noon.  The top five finalists will be chosen by the Friends of Honolulu City Lights.  The mayor will hold a drawing with the finalists present and announce the winner on Friday, November 27, 2009.


            As part of the silver jubilee, the Friends of Honolulu City Lights worked with the City to create a special photo exhibit that shows how the big displays were created and how they have evolved over the years.  The exhibit is currently showing at the Kahala Mall Shopping Center and will be on view in the Honolulu Hale Courtyard throughout December.


            "City elves are also working non-stop to put the finishing touches on several spectacular displays and ornaments that will be unveiled at the City's silver anniversary celebration," said Mayor Hannemann.


            This year's theme, "25 Years of Magic," highlights Hawaii's premiere holiday event that draws thousands of people to Honolulu Hale and the Civic Center grounds each year.


            "On opening night alone, 75,000 Christmas enthusiasts flock to City Hall to kick-off the holiday season.  For the past quarter-century, City artisans such as Mike Smith and Alex Ching work doubly hard to create new large displays that attract families from all over the country," said Joan Manke, executive director of Honolulu City Lights under Mayor Hannemann.  Manke said Smith helped to carve and shape Santa Shaka and Tutu Mele, each weighing about one and a half tons.


            Mayor Hannemann said, "Mayor Fasi is the father of Honolulu City Lights.  This is one of his legacies, and that is why I invited Mayor Fasi and his wife Joyce to join Gail and me on stage to light the Christmas tree at my first City Lights celebration as mayor in 2005."


            Carol Costa, executive director of Honolulu City Lights for 19 years, added, "I was there on December 12, 1985, when the first Christmas tree was illuminated on the Honolulu Hale front lawn.  Mayor Frank Fasi had asked his Deputy Parks Director Billie Beamer to create a holiday event that would bring Christmas back to downtown Honolulu.  It was an honor to follow Billie in coordinating this month-long event," Costa said.



            This eagerly anticipated month-long holiday event was made possible by several sponsors:  First Hawaiian Bank, Hawaiian Electric Company, Macy's, John H. Connors Insurance, Hawaiian Airlines, FUJIFILM Hawaii, GEICO, Papa John's Pizza, ING Direct, Aloha Pacific Federal Credit Union, Cox Radio and Tom Moffatt Productions.


            Opening festivities will be held on Saturday, December 5, 2009, at City Hall, followed by an electrifying holiday celebration to include the colorful City Employees' Decorated Christmas Tree Exhibit, wreath displays, gingerbread houses, and entertainment, and nightly visits with Santa.  In addition, two concerts are scheduled for December 12 and 19, and will be held at the City's Mission Memorial at 6 p.m. each night.  Entertainers will be announced.


            The December 5, 2009 program will include:


            4:00 p.m.       Food booths and keiki rides (Sky Gate)


            5:00 p.m.       Kawaiahao Church concert


            6:00 p.m.       Tree-lighting ceremony begins 


                                  Surprise special guest performer (TBA)


                                  Electric Light Parade begins at River Street and

                                  proceeds on King Street, arriving at Honolulu

                                  Hale at 6:30 p.m.


            6:30 p.m.       Mayor Hannemann and First Lady light the tree

                                  with the winner of the "Were You There on

                                  December 12, 1985?" contest


                                  Public Workers Electric Light Parade arrives at

                                  City Hall


                                  Christmas tree exhibit, wreath displays and

                                  gingerbread houses (Honolulu Hale)


            7:30 p.m.       Honolulu City Lights Jubilee Celebration Holiday


                                  (Sky Gate area)


            For a list of 25th Anniversary events log on to: or  For more information on Honolulu City Lights 25th Anniversary, contact executive director Joan Manke at 768-3710.



Joan Manke, 768-3710

Bill Brennan, 768-6928