Kona’s Christmas home has become so much more than a yard decorated for the holidays. It is a symbol of hope and joy for many Big Islanders as the community continues to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Long family is the creator of the magical environment that appears once a year in December at their house in Pualani Estates, located at 75-6202 Piena Place. Craig Long said his ‘ohana had been on display for 16 years.
“It’s moved significantly from the small screen to an interactive screen,” Long told Big Island Now.
With nearly 30,000 lights hanging from the trees and around the house, Long said several interactive elements help people engage with the experience. Long wants people to come to his yard and enter the world of Christmas. With snowfall, the yard is adorned with various Christmas trees, a moving train, active moving elves, and a fireplace with stockings from friends, neighbors, and returning guests.
For Long and his family, their decorations are a reminder that there is still a lot of good things happening in the community.
“I know when they come to our house, they feel a little better,” Long said of the guests.
Each evening when the display is up, Long estimates that 100 to 120 people drive through his yard and another 60 to 70 cars pass. The last night of the exhibition is December 30. The lights are on from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“The need for what we are doing is strong,” he said. “The fact that we have the ability to bring hope to people is a blessing to us.”
Long said visitors to the Kona Christmas House have strong emotional connections to the exhibit.
Rebekah Keizer is one of many long-time visitors to the house. She said she has been taking her children for 10 years to experience the magic and joy their garden brings.
Keizer noted that something is added to the yard every year and that Long has Christmas music that’s synced with the lights as they flash. She remembers Long letting the kids DJ music when they visited.
“They’re handing out hot chocolate and candy canes to people, they’re going out of their way,” Keizer said.
The onset of the pandemic in March 2020 disrupted everyday life with travel and health restrictions as well as massive job losses and business closures. However, that didn’t stop Long from creating his Christmas world.
Keizer said the decorations were spread across several neighbors’ yards to allow for social distancing.
“I think it added stability through the turmoil we’ve all been through,” Keizer said of Kona’s Christmas home. “This year is like bringing some normalcy back into our lives. It’s still here; it is neither lost nor forgotten.
Kona’s Christmas house is nothing short of spectacular, Keizer added.
“To see children witnessing this is spectacular because you see the joy and the magic in their eyes,” she said. “I think it’s special for them to put that on.”