Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016


Gabe and Jana Heschler's home in Ranchos, Ocean View, is a destination for touring Christmas lights enthusiasts.
Photo by Peter Bosted
ʻALALĀ FLEW INTO FOREST NEAR VOLCANO last week after almost 15 years of the species being extinct in the wild. The five critically endangered young Hawaiian crows now live in Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve. The release date was last Tuesday, Dec, 14. A film from San Diego Zoo, edited by Big Island Video News, documented the release. Bryce Masuda, Conservation Program Manager for San Diego Zoo Globals, described the ‘Alalā 's first minutes in the wild. “When they left their aviary, they were curious and immediately went out and started exploring their new home, foraging around in the forest, looking for different food items. Each of the ‘Alalā are wearing a small light-weight transmitter that will allow us to track it in the forest, so we can determine where they are going, how they behave and what they are feeding on.”
ʻAlalā have been released in the wild near Volcano, after being exinct
in the wild for almost 15 years. Photo from San Diego Zoo
    San Diego Zoo Global and many partners, including the state Department of Land & Natural Resources, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, worked on the conservation breeding that brought the ʻAlalā back from the brink of total extinction. Masuda said that, “Although the birds have now been released, we will continue to monitor them and provide appropriate supplemental food, to ensure they are supported as they encounter challenges.”
     Jackie Gaudioso-Levita, project coordinator of the ‘Alalā Project, spoke about the birds’ new home. She told Big Island Video News that “Decades of intensive management by the Three Mountain Alliance watershed partnership have led to the preservation of some of the most intact native-dominated wet and mesic forest on windward Hawai‘i Island, known as Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve.”
     ʻAlalā have existed only in captivity since 2002, hatched and raised under the care of Bird Conservation Centers at Volcano and on Maui, managed by San Diego Zoo Global. More than 100 are living at the two centers.
      The release was preceded by great fanfare, including Volcano Art Center's  juried Return of the ʻAlalā art show, as well as an ‘Alalā mask-making workshop and several presentations on the bird’s recovery. An ʻAlalā release party was held in November at Mokupaʻpapa Discovery Center in Hilo.
     See more at www.bigislandvideonews.com and at www.sandiegozoo.org.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

WORD ABOUT A LIFE SIZE MECHANICAL SANTA that waves, sings and laughs “ho, ho, ho” is quickly spreading around Ocean View’s Ranchos neighborhood. He is making a reputation for the two nearby houses, whose over-the-top Christmas light displays are attracting the curious to Maikai Blvd. between Jasmine and Macadamia.
The Hardin home on Maikai Blvd. in Ranchos, Ocean View, is decorated with hoops
 and arches that the Hardins built, and a lighted Santa with reindeer that they rewired 
with LED lights to save energy. Photo by Peter Bosted
     Bright, colorful Christmas decorations light up front yards on both sides of the street. On the right, the street is lined with colorful lighted hoops, and larger hoops form arches leading to the house where lighted Santa and five reindeer cover the home’s front wall. Across the street, lighted candy canes lean against the front wall, along side the word “Noel” in lights. Behind Noel, lighted reindeer leap across the yard past lighted penguins, lighted Santas and more. 
     The home on the left belongs to Gabe and Jana Heschler, and their toddler George. Gabe is a retired marine studying for a master’s degree in education while teaching two days a week at Kaʻū High in Pāhala. Jana is a supervising nurse. 
    Gabe explains how his obsession with Christmas decorations began with his being raised by his grandparents who could not afford them, but would drive him around to look at homes that were well decorated.
     “My first job was packing chickens, where I made $50 a week, enough to let me buy a few strings of lights to decorate our bushes. I spent money on lights each year until I had a good enough display that people would drive by to look at my lights. That Idea has stayed with me. When we bought this house, we closed just before Christmas of 2011. Our first purchase was a Christmas tree – before we bought a fridge. Here in Ranchos, people drive by to look at my lights. They honk or wave or stop and get out of their cars to look at our yard. I like that.”
Santa in his house outside the Heschler home in
Ranchos, Ocean View. The life-size  Santa will sing
and “ho, ho, ho” as admirers walk or drive in 
close proximity. Photo by Peter Bosted
     The home on the right belongs to Mike and Jennifer Hardin who keep bees and have a successful honey business. Asked about their obsession with decorating, they explain that unlike Georgia where they came from, Hawaiʻi does not have a “real” winter, so they need to decorate to remind themselves that this is Christmas.
    Both couples admit that a bit of friendly rivalry has driven them to their extravagant displays.
    “We egg each other on,” explains Gabe. “When I put up a few reindeer, Mike and Jen added some huge snowflakes to keep up.” 
    However, as both couples bought homes within months of each other, they have become close friends, and seasonal decorating has become a strong bond.  Ask them what they will do next and Jen replies: “We could build a bridge over the road between our properties!”
    Gabe replies, “It would have to be higher than the water trucks,” and Mike adds, “We would need a crane and maybe a forklift . . . “
    “Perhaps there will be more surprises in Ranchos next Christmas,” said a fan.  

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

THE CHRISTMAS KEIKI PARTY drew nearly 600 to Ocean View on Saturday at the Kahuku County Park. Booths, cooked food, gifts, prizes, Christmas decorations and a visit from Santa put party-goers in the holiday spirit.
St. Jude's Church brought a second Santa to the Ocean View keiki's party. Don Hatch 
listened to Christmas wishes from Lio, aged 4, and his two-year-old sister Keala.
Photo by Ann Bosted
     Ian Bailey, who reluctantly acknowledges that he was the organizer, modestly called the event “a big block party,” explaining that “anyone who worked events was here. We had churches and all sorts of organizations. It was a real community effort running on community spirit. I see the organizers as being part of a community I call ‘Kaʻū Strong’, meaning that we live in a hard place, so we need to be strong. This makes us all more capable. We were helped by an amazing response from businesses – we got a lot of donations from all sorts of people.”
     According to Lee and Kathie Griffeth, the planning for the Christmas Keiki Party began two short months ago. Informally calling themselves the Ocean View One Crew, the group of local residents got organized. First they had to fix up the dilapidated Kahuku County Park, which needed painting and cleaning. Then they did some fund raising, which continued right up to the night before the party.
     “People and businesses donated a lot,” recalls Bailey. “People donated Kaʻū beef, a Kaʻū pig, 400 apples, buckets of flowers and even services.” When shopping needed to be done, Ocean View One Crew members dug deep into their own pockets or came up with innovative ideas.
Volunteers Kailani Toriano and
Rowena Puakela get into the
Christmas spirit while they wait for keikis
to visit their booth
to create personalized
Christmas cards.
Photo by Ann Bosted
      Lee and Kathie Griffeth donated gift certificates of labor – so each is now beholden for about 20 hours of yard work and house work.
      Many volunteers organized themselves and opened booths to either feed or entertain the keiki. The booth handing out shave ice had the longest line, and booths helping kids make Christmas cards were also popular.
     “Each keiki was given a bag,” explained Griffith, “so they could keep their handouts, gifts, prizes and treats safe. I can’t tell you how gratifying it was to see all these kids with bulging bags and smiles on their faces. It was a magical moment.”
      Across the street, St. Jude’s Church also had booths and a Santa with elves, gifts, treats and a hand-made stockings for each child.
St. Jude's church volunteers made hundreds of custom stockings for 
the keiki that came to the Ocean View Christmas party. Here two of 
Santa's elves, Linda Law and Marvelle Rau, each hold two stockings.
Photo by Ann Bosted
     A white vintage car, provided by the Hillbilly Car Club, brought Santa to the party in fine style. Once ensconced on his throne, surrounded by Christmas trees, lights, flowers and other decorations, Santa conducted personal interviews with each keiki. The keiki could then choose a wrapped gift from a huge selection. The selection was big enough that some kids were able to go through twice. They also gave away door prizes.
    Many members volunteered to cook the donated food and set up a kitchen. They produced enough to feed nearly 600 keiki and adults.
    By mid-afternoon, members of the Ocean View One Crew were cleaning up and breaking down the decorations and food table. An exhausted Kathie Griffith exclaimed “I’m so happy now.”
     “All those smiling faces and laughing kids have put me in the Christmas spirit,” admitted Butch Light. “I wasn’t in the Christmas spirit before, but I am now.”
    Ann Snow and her 16-year-old daughter, Annika joined the Griffeth family in camping out over night at the park to ensure that the elaborate party decorations and preparations were not tampered with. Annika also organized the keiki games.
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

REP. RICHARD CREAGAN’S OCEAN VIEW FORUM will be held at Ocean View Community Center next Monday, Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. Creagan represents District 5 in the Hawaiʻi House of Representatives and chairs the Committee on Agriculture. District 5 includes Honuʻapo to Nāʻālehu, to Ocean View, to Capt. Cook, Kealakekua and part of Kailua-Kona.

KEIKI FUN DAY AND OPEN HOUSE will be held at Pāhala Community Center on Tuesday, Dec. 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., sponsored by Tutu & Me.

OCEAN VIEW’S OWN MUSICAL CONDUCTOR Michael Cripps will lead the Chamber Orchestra of Kona in a Christmas Concert, Tuesday, Dec. 20 at Sheraton ballroom at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.chamberorchestraofkona.com and at the door.

VOTE FOR THE BEST DECORATED Kilauea Military Camp through the holidays.

CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY is ongoing through the holidays at Volcano Art Center in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Free; park entrance fees apply.


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