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11 Things You Didn’t Know About the Magical Waikele Christmas Lights

This Waikele neighborhood was featured on national television and you have until Jan.8, 2016 to see it in person.


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Each Christmas, thousands of people gather around Anapau Place for a chance to watch the Waikele Lights show. The jaw-dropping spectacle features more than a dozen houses synchronized to light up to music at the same time, every night. The most popular song is “Let it Go,” which is always a crowd-pleaser. You’ll find families, young adults and seniors crowding the Waikele street just to watch (and sometimes sing along with) the mesmerizing lights show.

 

The man behind it all is Keith Yoshida. By day, Yoshida is the vice president of business development at Mid Pac Petroleum; by night, he is a holiday lights expert. “It gives so much joy and happiness to the people,” says Yoshida, who puts in a lot of time and effort to make his street a spectacular attraction for the holidays. We wanted to know how he’s able to pull this off (little elves stringing lights on each house, perhaps), so we rounded up 11 things  you probably didn’t know about the Waikele Lights.

 

 

1. Their Electricity Bill is not that high. 

Larry DeRego of HĀLAU HULA O ‘HOKULANI.
Photo: Brittney Nitta-Lee 

 

Electricity in Hawai‘i is costly, especially if your house is dressed in thousands of Christmas lights. Yoshida’s secret? Solar photovoltaic panels. He says his electricity bill only goes up by $70, which is not too bad, considering that his house is lit up seven days a week for two to three hours a night. 

 

2. Anapau Place has a close-knit community. 

The Anapau Place neighborhood. Pictured in the middle is Keith Yoshida (in the Santa outfit) next to his wife, Nalani. 
Photo: Courtesy of Terry Reis of Surf Shooter Hawai‘i

 

Yoshida is lucky. He lives in a close-knit community that enjoys putting on the Christmas lights display. In fact, 14 houses on his street participate. “We kind of all get together and we rally around a common goal,” says Yoshida. How does he do it? Yoshida acts as the Christmas lights consultant and talks to each neighbor about what they want their house to look like. He orders the parts ahead of time and bills them the invoice. Each neighbor is responsible for their own electricity bill.

 

3. There is a Donation Box. 

Families take photos under the brightly lit Mele Kalikimaka sign. Directly below the sign is the donation box. 
Photos: Brittney Nitta-Lee 

 

You’ll know which one is Yoshida’s house (but we have a picture above to show you which one it is). Under the dazzling Mele Kalikimaka sign, there a donation box. Last year, the Waikele Lights crew raised $10,000 to various local organizations. Which include P.A.T.C.H and Next Step Shelter. So far, they donated $500 to Lanakila Pacific. It’s not too late to swing by and drop off a donation. 

 

4. They were Featured on ABC’s Great Christmas Light Fight.

Video: Courtesy of Surf Shooter Hawai‘i

 

Did you know that this neighborhood was on national television? The Great Christmas Light Fight featured the Waikele neighborhood versus a home on the Mainland. Neighborhoods competed for a chance to win $50,000, but we won’t give you any spoilers. The episode aired on Monday, Dec. 14, but you can still watch it here

 

5. The waikele community wants everyone to be safe. 

People gather on the street waiting for the light show. 

 

Yoshida obtained a permit to block off the street, to allow people to roam around and see each house up close. The neighborhood works with the State of Hawai‘i Department of Transportation, the Honolulu Police Department and council members to create a safe environment. Each neighbor volunteers their time to help direct traffic; you’ll see them in bright orange reflective gear. 

 

6. How long does it take? 

 

The elaborate Christmas lights display takes about four weekends to complete. Yoshida sets up the lights, and programs the synchronization using a special computer program. He says it takes him 80 to 100 hours to program the whole thing. 

 

7. Memorable events take place here. 

Colorful lights set the tone for a romantic proposal.

 

If you’re looking to propose to your significant other, this could be the place for you. Yes, there was a flash mob and a proposal last year at Waikele Lights. And the best part? She said “Yes!”

 

8. Be prepared for a possible interview. 

Haleima Jones interviewing a member of Hālau Hula O ‘Hokulani.

 

If you missed the light show, it’s OK. On the weekends, Haleima Jones and Terry Reis of Surf Shooter Hawai‘i, live-streams the event on USTREAM. You might see yourself on camera here

 

9. The Songs Will Put You in a Holiday Mood. 

The first house closest to the entrance of Anapau Place displays the show on two projector screens. 

 

Yoshida plays popular Christian Christmas songs, but not all of his songs are religious. You can also expect to hear “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey and the ever-popular “Mele Kalikimaka.”

 

SEE ALSO: 12 Christmas Songs That Will Put You in the Mood for the Holidays

 

10. It’s not an hour long anymore.

 

If you are a Waikele Lights regular, you may recall that the lights show was about an hour long. This year, Yoshida has cut it to 38 minutes per show. But there are more houses compared to previous years. 

 

11. There are No Black Out Days. 

 

If you missed the show on Monday, you have six other days to see the lights. It’s open nightly from 7 to 9:30 p.m. until Jan. 6, 2016.  Budget an hour before the show to find parking–it’s in a residential area, so there’s not a lot of street parking available. We circled the block for 30 minutes to find parking, it’s that crowded. 

 

Anapau Place, Waikele, 7–9:30 p.m. nightly, waikelelights.com 

 

READ MORE STORIES BY BRITTNEY NITTA-LEE

 

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