Getting Shaka Santa and Tutu Mele ready for Honolulu City Lights
Photo: Dallas Nagata White
You may not realize this, but Santa’s had some work done.
When not perched atop Honolulu Hale’s fountain, he reclines in a Pearl City warehouse, where sculptor Alex Ching, recreation specialist with the Department of Parks and Recreation, and his team wash and repair close to 50 sculptures in preparation for the Honolulu City Lights display.
“Two years ago, [Santa] had some stress cracks on him so we did a major renovation and repaired about a third of him,” Ching says. “This year, there was a ding in his hand. … There are always repairs just from travel. Strapping [the sculptures] down on the truck from Pearl City to town, we’ve had stuff fall.”
Among the incidents: One of the snow ladies’ heads fell off during transport and rolled into a ditch, a gnome “exploded across three lanes of freeway,” Rudolph’s antlers got caught on a traffic light and ripped his head from his body, and a Pepsi truck hit Santa’s shaka hand clean off.
“We always bring Santa and Mrs. Claus first,” Ching says. “People think it’s symbolic … but one of the main reasons is, if anything happens, we have time to repair.”
Catch Shaka Santa and Tutu Mele at their usual spot from Dec. 7 to Dec. 31.