2016 Christmas Parade and Winter Star Party

Residents of Waimea know to brace for the Christmas Parade. For an evening half the island population descends upon this little town. Days ahead of time, the parking spots along the street, far from the store’s front doors, normally empty, will be full of pickup trucks as people stake out their favorite spot to watch the parade.

The Crowd
The crowd along the parade route for the 2016 Waimea Christmas Parade
The main road closes at 5:30pm, important to know as this closure cuts the ring road around the island. By this time the crowd has grown to a size that is quite surprising on this island. Are there actually that many people here?

This year Keck and CFHT cooperated on a float. Really a decorated truck like most entries in the parade. We handed out glow sticks and glow bracelets to the kids along the parade route. walking along with the group is fun, of course I have a camera along.

Aboard the Float
Aboard the CFHT and Keck float in the 2016 Waimea Christmas Parade
After the parade it was time for a star party… Only one issue… Calling it a star party is a bit of a misnomer. There were no stars, there were no telescopes. Two ‘scopes did get set up briefly, then the rain began. With the ongoing winter storm there were only a few glimpses of the moon through the clouds, otherwise nothing to see. The telescopes stayed in the vehicles.

Not that there was nothing to do. Mary Beth had arranged a panoply of activities inside. There was an ‘Ask an Astronomrer” table, a film running, a spectroscopy demonstration, you could visit with the telescope operator in remote operations, or even slew a working model of the telescope around. There were cookies and hot chocolate available for a cool winter evening, and a fire pit with marshmallows and hotdogs to roast.

Creating Planets
Decorating an ornament to create a planet
By far the most popular activity was creating planets. Ornament bulbs available with a wide range of decorating supplies from paint to stickers, but no glitter. Mary Beth had learned years ago at previous winter star parties that glitter and kids were a disaster waiting to happen… No more glitter in the conference room carpet this year!

Instead of working a telescope, I roamed the crowd with the camera and had a bit of fun. Chatting with guests, shooting photos of kids creating planets, or roasting a hotdog of my own. I did get a few decent photos, which I have already forwarded on to Mary Beth and the CFHT staff.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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