Friday, December 5, 2014 is the opening night for the 18th Annual Festival of Lights at the Historic County Building.

Head to Lihue this holiday season and celebrate 40 years of Christmas folk art by visiting Festival of Lights. It’s an amazing visual history of turning “trash” into treasure.

From trash to treasure – a beautiful starfish. Photo courtesy of Festival of Lights.

Josie Chansky “Auntie Josie” was a creative genius and began turning trash into treasure many decades ago. She could create anything out of soda cans, bottle caps and even Styrofoam cups! For over 40 years during the holiday season, many generations of families and children would visit the Chansky home, which was lit up from ground to rooftop, to view her crafty holiday creations.  There were many holiday favorites, with one of the standouts a Christmas tree made of 7,500 green toothpicks!

Auntie Josie’s husband passed away in 1996, which made it difficult to continue their family tradition.  She decided to sell her decorations.  Elizabeth Freeman bought everything she could and donated it to the County of Kauai. In 1997, the Festival of Lights was born and it has become a much loved and anticipated tradition. Elizabeth is now the Festival’s Art Director.

Recognize the cans this beautiful flower came from? Photo courtesy of Ron Rosen.

There are a myriad of decorations by Auntie Josie and other local artists. You can see Auntie Josie’s “toothpick” tree, and other Kauai style themed trees such as Spam, Hula Bear, Kilauea Lighthouse, a nationally recognized Aloha Recycled Treasures made from plastic water bottles, a “If Can, Can” tree with recycled aluminum can ornaments, and a dazzling “CD” tree with recycled CD’s. This year there is a new tree, “Lure of the Sea”, decorated with ornaments inspired by underwater creatures and created with recycled plastic and aluminum cans.

Volunteers make it all happen. When you attend the Festival of Lights, cheery teen elves greet you with aloha and a candy cane. Once you’re inside the Historic County Building, docents then provide a tour and make the displays come alive by sharing the history of the Festival of Lights as well as the artistry involved.

So, head to Lihue and see what all the buzz is about!

18th Annual Festival of Lights
Historic County Building
4396 Rice Street, Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii 96766
Opening Night: Friday, December 5, 2014
Last Night: December 27, 2014
Hours: Friday-Sunday, 6:00-8:00 p.m. **ALSO OPEN CHRISTMAS EVE!**
Price: Free
For more information, you can go to or contact Elizabeth Freeman, 808-639-8564, [email protected]

The Historic County Building. Photo courtesy of Jim Shea.

Friday, December 5, 2014 is also the Lights on Rice Parade, which helps kick off the Festival of Lights at the Kauai Historic County Building.

If you have ever attended, tell us all about it!

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