Donning masks, Shaka Santa and Tutu Mele take their place for the holidays

Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 1:09 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2020 at 1:15 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu City Lights is going to look a little different this year, starting with the big man in red.

Work crews began erecting the popular lights display Tuesday morning, starting with the installation of the towering Shaka Santa and Tutu Mele statues ― both of whom were wearing floral-print protective face coverings, as is mandated in public spaces across Hawaii because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’re not there permanently. They’re tacked on,” said Sheri Kajiwara, the city’s Director of Customer Services. “But they’re made out of vinyl sheets, and what we did was order decals to give that Hawaiian print onto the vinyl sheet.”

The size of Shaka Santa’s signature white beard made attaching the mask a bit of a challenge.

“We had a bit of a problem because he has a flat beard, so we couldn’t get the mask around his chin,” Kajiwara said. “Mele, I think we did a really god job on Mele. Our crew did fantastic.”

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said last week that the displays would be masked to help encourage people to stay safe during the holidays.

“We want everybody to be in the holiday spirit, while still staying safe,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “Let’s all act with care toward one another this holiday season by wearing face coverings, staying 6 feet apart, and not gathering in large groups to view the tree and other holiday decorations in front of Honolulu Hale.”

On Wednesday, the city’s 50-foot Christmas tree will be installed on the lawn facing King Street.

Crews will then spend the better part of a week putting up the rest of the decorations before the lights are lit on Dec. 9.

The city says it will not hold any opening night festivities this year, including the annual holiday concert and electric light parade.

“While safety is our No. 1 priority this year, we are always proud to ring in the holiday season with Honolulu City Lights,” said Kajiwara.

“We look forward to keeping this tradition going this year with drive-by enjoyment.”

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