SUCCESS STORY – Friends of Honolulu City Lights

“Owen Ho, spokesperson for Friends of Honolulu City Lights says that customers recognize the quality of the piece from other famous Beacon Design projects (like the White House ornament). They enjoy the uniquely Hawaiian design that each ornament has, and often buy their first ornament and immediately look to purchase the whole series. He says that people buy the ornament not only as a keepsake from this special event but as a statement of pride in their heritage and the island of Hawaii.” Owen Ho

Friends of Honolulu City Lights

In 2000 The Friends of Honolulu City Lights were looking for a way to entice not only corporate sponsorships and private donations but also a way for patrons to keep the spirit of the city’s annual Christmas celebration in their hearts all year long. The head of the organization had seen ornaments sold at Honolulu’s Iolani Palace, recalled the quality of the White House ornaments and had an idea. He contacted Beacon Design and began the first of a series of ornaments. Beacon Design has created their annual ornament for almost two decades!

Honolulu City Lights first began in 1985 when former Mayor Frank Fast started the tradition by having a Christmas tree erected in front of Honolulu Hale, the island’s city hall. This event,  has now become an infamous spectacle, with the entire city covered in lights and Christmas regalia, exhibits, music concerts and a parade. The Friends of Honolulu City Lights is the volunteer organization that spearheads this annual event. It is funded only through contributions and manned exclusively by volunteers.

Each year, Honolulu City Lights has a specific theme. The Friends of Honolulu City Lights commission an artist to design an ornament each year around this theme, while keeping the city hall and the giant tree in the background of each ornament. What stands out in the design is the uniquely Hawaiian elements– Mrs. Claus in a muumuu, snowmen covered in leis, a shirtless, shoeless Santa. This collection truly embodies the aloha spirit and distinction of Hawaii.

The first order was for 3,000 ornaments and was immediately sold out. Today, they order 5000 pieces each time and sell through. The organization reorders not only the new style every year but reorders of previous years to fill the incredible demand patrons have for the series. The ornaments are sold at the event and at various venues around Honolulu beginning in September of each year.

In a unique retail twist, Macy’s and Borders have partnered with the Friends of Honolulu City Lights to sell the ornaments through their stores on the various. 100% of the sale goes directly to the organization for their fundraising efforts. Additionally, in 2006 there was a special event at the Honolulu Macy’s store with the mayor and his wife autographing ornaments for patrons.

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