Finding Family-friendly Holiday Fun

Putting up the tree at Honolulu Hale TANNYA JOAQUIN PHOTO

Putting up the tree at Honolulu Hale TANNYA JOAQUIN PHOTO

Ready or not, here comes Santa Claus.

The jolly old elf will be busy at many family-friendly events around the island leading up to Christmas.

Actually, I was surprised to see Old St. Nick hanging out, perched above the Ala Moana Center parking deck weeks ago — way before the Black Friday crowds invaded the mall.

Now that that’s behind us, you can look forward to a whole month of fun. Photos with Santa are available at most malls. At Ala Moana, he set up shop for all those priceless candids with screaming children the week before Thanksgiving.

Look for Santa at his Menehune Toy Shop across from Centerstage daily, starting at 10 a.m. But you may have to spring for a Candy Cane train ride too. The 30-foot-long train takes children on a “sing-along journey” throughout the shopping center.

You also can bring your pets for pictures with Santa. Hawaiian Humane Society offers photos with Santa Paws this Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 6 and 7) from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Or, if you prefer, Ward Village is snapping pet photos every Tuesday through Dec. 23, from 5 to 8 p.m., outside Consolidated Theatres.

So what if there’s no snow? You still can experience a White Christmas in Hawaii. The popular Irving Berlin musical will be back at Diamond Head Theatre for the holidays. It opens Friday, Dec. 5 and runs through Dec. 21.

Choose your holiday pleasure. In addition to the Honolulu City Lights parade and tree lighting happening at Honolulu Hale Saturday night (Dec. 6) at 6 p.m., there will be morning events on the Windward side. Kaneohe Christmas Parade will start from the lower parking lot in Windward Mall Saturday at 10 a.m. and finish at Castle High.

All of these are family friendly, but my personal favorite is just before Christmas.

Coming up Dec. 20 in East Oahu, Hawaii Kai Marina Association will host the 18th annual Festival of Lights boat parade. This is a crowd pleaser. It’s always fun to see what creative boaters come up with to decorate their vessels.

We’ve thought about entering our boat, but that sounds like too much work. Instead, we’ll just enjoy watching all the festive boats go by. It’s a big night for holiday parties and gatherings around the marina. Or take it from me: Make reservations for dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants.

A good table at Cha Cha Cha Salsaria or Kona Brewing Company, for instance, would be the perfect vantage point to see the action.

Happy holidays!