When the Kaimuki Christmas Parade ended on Dec. 5, it culminated with the lighting of the floating Christmas tree at Puu o Kaimuki Mini Park – a tradition brought back, in part, thanks to Hawaiian Electric volunteers from IBEW Local 1260.
The illuminated tree, which sits about 40 ft above the mini park off Koko Head Avenue, had gone dark the past few years. But about a dozen Hawaiian Electric linemen, troublemen, inspectors and substation technicians worked Wednesday to string new multi-colored, energy-efficient LED light strands atop its galvanized steel base.
After staging bucket trucks and placing a tarp below the tree to capture any loose bulb shards, above-ground volunteers removed the old, weathered incandescent bulbs from the tree and tightened the fixtures. On-the-ground volunteers unrolled the reels of colored lights to check for flaws and broken bulbs. Each 66-ft strand was lifted to the top and safely secured to ensure the tree could withstand the elements.
The true test came when volunteer leader Todd Mayeshiro, a community relations specialist and former lineman, turned on the light switch amidst cheers from park users.
"We're so glad it worked," smiled Mayeshiro. "There were a lot of challenges, but everything just fell into place, and our volunteers stepped up from across the company to make this happen in time for tonight's scheduled Kaimuki Christmas Parade and tree lighting ceremony."
Hawaiian Electric worked with the City & County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation and Kaimuki Business & Professional Association to resurrect the illuminated tree, which had been a community fixture for about three decades.
In recent years, upkeep of the tree had become difficult, and it remained dormant. In total, nearly 1,000 LED light bulbs were used to adorn the cone-shaped tree, which will save about 90 percent in electricity use. Volunteers completed their work in just under three hours.
To see the volunteers in action, view this video clip. You can also view photos from the parade in the following gallery.