Friends of Honolulu City Lights Uses Custom Keepsakes to Raise Money for the annual free month-long December celebration

About Friends of Honolulu City Lights

The Friends of Honolulu City Lights, a local non-profit organization, dedicates its support to the City and County of Honolulu. The organization maintains the quality and continuity of the annual free month-long December celebration through fundraising and coordination. Mayor Frank F. Fasi created a free event that included a lighted tree on the main lawn, decorated tree display in the courtyard, holiday concert and displays of light on the trees and buildings from downtown to the civic center. The first 50-foot Norfolk Pine was decorated with wooden white doves and gold balls and illuminated by flood lights. The official tree lighting ceremony was held on Thursday, December 12, 1985.

Friends of Honolulu City Lights’ Mission

Friends of Honolulu City Lights is dedicated to supporting the city and county of Honolulu, through fundraising and coordination, while maintaining the quality and continuity of the annual free month-long December celebration that brings joy to local families and visitors. The main goal of the organization is to keep Honolulu City Lights unique to Hawaii and to continue perpetuating a free of charge event to the community.


It’s not just one free of charge event to the community, it’s a whole month worth of events free of charge to their community. In previous years, the organization had hosted free milk and cookies night, free family movie night, free Santa photo night, as well as electric lights parades, and more. All events are hosted free of charge from the fundraising and coordination of the Friends of Honolulu City Lights.

Meet Creative Director, Owen Matthew Ho

To learn a bit about Friends of Honolulu City Lights, Owen Matthew Ho was kind enough to give us some information about the organization. In 1984, Owen who is a designer and loves all things Hawaii, was asked by then Mayor Frank Fasi to initiate a celebration of Christmas with festivities and displays at the City Hall, Honolulu Hale in 1984. Since then, Owen has become the Creative Director for the organization and has carried the direction of the organization and each year’s festivities even though new City & County Administrations. While the display started as an annual tree lighting, under his direction the festivities are now carried through the month of December. 

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Forging A Partnership with Beacon Design

When asked what attracted Owen and the Friends of Honolulu City Lights to Beacon Design, Owen said that the quality of the product and the fact that it is made in America was the most appealing factor. Since the organization has partnered with Beacon Design since 2000, it shows that the annual ornament program is a success for fundraising. The Friends of Honolulu City Lights typically use the ornaments to help fundraise for future events. Owen also mentions that people looking at the ornament immediately recognize that Beacon Design is the same company that makes the ornaments for the White House Historical Association.

Like the festival growing, the partnership of Beacon Design and Friends of Honolulu City Lights has also grown over the last twenty-two years. Owen mentions, “Everyone we have worked with has met our needs beyond expectations. Currently working with Jackie Camera is such a delight, she anticipates our every need.” Beacon Design has a quality sales team that helps customers, like Friends of Honolulu City Lights, from idea to design to production. All in all, this assistance only allows our customers to focus on the thing that’s most important to them, fundraising.

Building Lifelong Collectors

Owen had created his first ornament with Beacon Design in 2000 and noticed that each year it would bring it more customers to purchase their annual ornament. Owen stated, “Everyone just loves our annual ornament keeps coming back, so many add to their complete collection each year.” Their visitors have gotten into a habit of collecting the annual ornaments year after year and it’s been a rewarding way for Friends of Honolulu City Lights to fundraise as well as give their visitors something to bring home and remember the festivities each year.

The organization allows the visitors to purchase their ornaments throughout the whole year online as well as completing their collection by offering previous years ornaments as well.

Celebrating the Holiday

Bringing the Christmas joy to the local families and visitors through these events held throughout December is the most important part of the Friends of Honolulu City Lights. For Owen Ho, the Creative Director at Friends of Honolulu City Lights, the most rewarding part of his job is opening night and the lighting of the tree. “Seeing the joy and merriment of the attendees is beyond rewarding. It’s nice to be anonymous, I can walk through the crowd and listen to the comment, I really enjoy that part”, Owen said. It’s obvious that Owen and the Friends of Honolulu City Lights’ officers and resources value the visitors and what they think of the festivities.

The future of Friends of Honolulu City Lights is to continue the festivals and events. As the organization has grown over the past thirty-eight years, the importance of growing and continuing the iconic part of the Honolulu history is essential.  

To learn more about creating your own custom keepsake program for fundraising, click here.