Christmas in Honolulu: Trees Display

Having had your photo op on the lawn of Honolulu Hale (pronounced HAH-leh) with the over-sized North Pole denizens vacationing in Hawaii (last post), it’s time to see what’s happening inside. Once through the doors of the Hale (City Hall) — and after your eyes adjust from the bright sun to the softer natural light of the the Hale atrium — you are met with a charming Christmas tree display organized and decorated by city and county employees. Each tree is sponsored by a department agency and sports a theme (recycling, protecting wildlife, family tradition, etc.). The first photo of the atrium is actually from last year’s display because I forgot to take one this year, but this gives you an idea of the effect.

The blue Christmas palm tree is one of my favorites this year because it envisions a foxtail palm as a Christmas tree, which seems more practical in the tropics — and has lauhala (coconut woven) fish as decorations. It looks blurry because it’s actually spinning, to simulate the fish swimming underwater (I think).


Santa goes local with an aloha shirt and grass skirt; an elf chef sports an aloha shirt and apron.

These little miniature houses represent a few of the many cultures at home in Hawaii: Chinese, Hawaiian, Japanese and Portuguese (click on photo to enlarge)

All these last photos are from the same tree display hosted by the customer service department — it’s theme was protecting Hawaii’s native species and using recycled materials to build “homes” for them.
At the foot of the tree are a mynah and a couple of mongoose; as well as a band of gecko fans plugging for the UH-Warriors in the Sugar Bowl.

These mice seem to be playing petanque (aka bocce) in front of their exquisitely constructed straw and wood house. The detail in the doors, lanai, and windows is inspired. As is this bird house cleverly recycled from a Zippy’s chili tub and plastic eating utensils!

As you step back, the full effect of this creatively imagined and beautifully realized tree can be enjoyed. An endangered white fairy tern alights at the tree’s top.

If you head through the atrium and to the right, then left just before the exit, you’ll find a wreath display. Several dozen wreaths were made by schools and individuals for an annual island competition. They are all well-crafted, but here are four that really captured my attention. The first is from a local school championing conservation and recycling (something dear to my heart). The garden implements envisioned as a wreath is just darn clever!

This tribute to Queen Keopuolani by the women of her namesake dormitory at the Kamehameha Schools just took my breath away. There is such grace and power in the woman’s form, which is covered in a decoupage of pictures of the Queen, as well as moss. The red and gold are the colors of the Ali’i, the native Hawaiian ruling class. The last wreath recycles dried native flora into a beautiful wreath that can be displayed long into the new year.

To see pictures of the Honolulu Hale Christmas Tree and lawn display with their lights all aglow for the opening night festivities, visit the Honolulu City Lights official site.