On Nov. 28, Life Care Center of Hilo, Hawaii, combined the spirit of aloha with the spirit of Christmas during its annual Festival of Lights.


In the balmy island warmth, residents gathered outdoors for the event and put on Christmas hats and tinsel leis. Attendees counted down to the turning on of the Christmas lights, which adorned the facility’s roof and the nearby trees.


“The lights are spectacular,” said Lani Goodman, activity director. “It’s like you’re in a wonderland.”


There was more to the festival than just lights, however. The hour and a half program offered a wide variety of music. Esther Zamora, rehab aide, started the group off by singing a Christmas song, and New Hope Church followed with hula dancers sharing choreography to several more holiday favorites. A teenage volunteer at the facility danced ballet, and one resident joined five of his friends in singing several songs accompanied by the ukulele. Residents also enjoyed hearing another volunteer sing and play the electric guitar.


Santa Claus, portrayed by the son-in-law of one of the facility’s residents, came out and greeted the crowd, accompanied by Mrs. Claus, portrayed by Allyson Nelson, staff development coordinator. Together, they led attendees in a sing-along.


After another performance by the hula dancers, Zamora closed the music program by starting the whole group off on “Silent Night.”


“We look forward to the Festival of Lights every year,” said Jean Wygul, president of the Resident Council. “It really lifts our spirits.”


Fellow resident Jolenta Cummings added, “For the elderly, stuff like this means even more now than it ever did before. It’s so beautiful. This is what Hawaii is all about.”

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