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Recycled cans, bottles and old CDs decorate trees at Kauai's Festival of Lights

Recycled cans, bottles and old CDs decorate trees at Kauai's Festival of Lights
A young visitor poses beside the Rainbow Tree at Kauai's Festival of Lights. The tree is one of several decorated entirely with ornaments made from recycled materials. (Ron Kosen)

The bright and colorful ornaments that adorn a collection of Christmas trees on Kauai are all made from recyclables.

Kauai’s Festival of Lights, which opens Dec. 1 at the Historic County Building in Lihue, is a local favorite – and it’s free.

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The Festival of Lights is open on weekends from Dec. 1 to 30 at the Historic County Building in Lihue,
The Festival of Lights is open on weekends from Dec. 1 to 30 at the Historic County Building in Lihue, (Jim Shea)

Each December, the building – one of the first government offices to be built in the Territory of Hawaii – is transformed into a holiday showcase of environmental sustainability.

Led by local artist Elizabeth Freeman and her “trash to treasures” mantra, locals and visitors alike share their holiday decorations made from things such as aluminum cans and plastic bottles.

Floral ornaments made from recycled water bottles adorn a Christmas tree, one of several full of repurposed recyclables at Kauai's Festival of Lights.
Floral ornaments made from recycled water bottles adorn a Christmas tree, one of several full of repurposed recyclables at Kauai's Festival of Lights. (Ron Kosen)

The festive display includes wreaths and nativity scenes in addition to a number of awe-inspiring trees with themes such as hula, Spam (a pantry staple in Hawaii) and Kauai’s Kilauea Lighthouse.

There’s even a tree adorned with decorative CDs donated by a San Francisco nonprofit called SCRAP, an acronym for Scrounger's Center for Reusable Art Parts.

Visitors are greeted by docents who interpret the displays and explain what has been repurposed.

Kauai artist Elizabeth Freeman, who provides inspiration for the Festival of Lights, stands beside a Christmas tree decorated with recycled compact discs.
Kauai artist Elizabeth Freeman, who provides inspiration for the Festival of Lights, stands beside a Christmas tree decorated with recycled compact discs. (Ron Kosen)

The festival serves to remind people that “the true meaning of Christmas comes from the heart and not the stores,” according to a news release.

The Festival of Lights is open 6 to 8 p.m. Fridays through Sundays through Dec. 30. The Historic County Building is at 4396 Rice St., just two miles from the Lihue Airport (LIH).

Live music will be performed and Santa Claus will be on hand to greet kids.

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