The holidays are here! Kauai’s ‘Lights on Rice’ parade returns for first time since pandemic began

Some 65 units and an estimated 3,000 participants took part in this year's parade.
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 11:43 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 3, 2022 at 12:11 AM HST

LIHUE (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kauai’s largest holiday celebration is back ― in a big way.

Thousands lined up Rice Street in Lihue on Friday evening to watch the famous “Lights on Rice” Parade. It’s the first time the parade has been held since the pandemic began.

The parade kicked off at 6 p.m. at Vidinha Stadium, and made its way down to the county building.

Even before the parade started, the atmosphere along the parade route was electric.

This year, there were over 60 units and some 3,000 participants.

“First time in three years we’re able to do the ‘Lights on Rice’ Parade. We’re very excited,” said David Lister, president of the Rotary Club of Kauai, which organizes the event.

“Sixty-five entries in this year’s parade and it’s just great that the Rotary Club can do this for the island.”

Families staked out their spots along the parade route hours before the event started and said it feels good to bring this back for the people of Kauai.

“Totally totally excited,” Kauai resident Roxanne Palau said. “We haven’t had such involvement since COVID occurred, and to see everyone coming out and supporting the schools and whosoever was in the parade, its wonderful.”

Fellow island resident Jlyn Espinosa added, “It’s a way to get the community together. It’s an exciting time, it’s the start of the holiday season.”

This year, there are over 60 units and some 3,000 participants.

Once at the County Building, the parade made its way for the “Festival of Lights,” where all the trees on the lawn are light up through New Year’s Day.

Festival organizers said only the County Building’s exterior will be lit up and decorated while the inside displays will not be set up this year due to ongoing health and safety concerns.

But even with the absence of the indoor display, people said they were simply happy the parade was back.

“I kind of just enjoyed it from a new perspective this time, I mean being older now. It really kind of filled my heart with this holiday spirit that I’ve been missing, so it’s really nice coming back here and enjoying it over the holidays,” Heiley Kikuchi said.

Behind the Kauai Museum, there was also the annual Christmas Craft Fair happening Friday evening.