Hawaii: Kauai’s Festival of Lights also shines a light on folk art

Tens of thousands of holiday lights glimmer on the grounds of the Historic County Building in Lihue on the island of Kauai. The Festival of Lights also focuses on folk art.
(Jim Shea)

December visitors to Kauai can get in the holiday spirit while viewing one woman’s unique Christmas-themed folk art.

The annual Festival of Lights is open 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 21 and on Dec. 24 and Dec. 27 at the Historic County Building, 4428 Rice St., Lihue.

Tens of thousands of holiday lights will illuminate the building and the surrounding trees. But the treasures that will have visitors singing “Mele Kalikimaka” are found inside. That’s where works by the late Josie Chansky are displayed.

For decades before she died in 2009, “Auntie Josie” would open her home during the holidays to friends and curious strangers who had heard of her assortment of folk art.


Imagine a Christmas tree made out of 7,500 green toothpicks and wreaths fashioned from egg cartons.

In recent years, Kauai residents have added to the collection by crafting uniquely Hawaiian trees with themes such as a hula bear, the Kilauea lighthouse and Spam, the canned food product that’s popular in the islands.

New this year is a “Lure of the Sea” tree that features ornaments of undersea creatures, all fashioned from recycled aluminum cans and plastic.

Docents will be on hand to share the history of the collection, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will welcome children.

The Festival of Lights is free. For more information, call Elizabeth Freeman at (808) 639-8564.

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