By HUNTER BISHOP
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Black & White Night has proved to be such a big success for the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association that now it’s planning Red & White Night on Friday, Dec. 7, to usher in the holidays for businesses and shoppers in downtown Hilo.
Black & White night was designed to attract the public to downtown Hilo at night with special activities and promotions, food and entertainment, introducing shoppers to what the historic business district has to offer.
The County of Hawaii, which in recent years has stepped up its own holiday celebration at its Aupuni Street offices, is coordinating activities with the DIA for a Dec. 7 holiday kick-off to the Christmas season, adopting “The Magic of the Season” theme for a series of events designed to light up the holidays.
The DIA has asked its merchant members to stay open later than usual for Red & White Night, beginning 5 p.m. at the Mooheau Bandstand. Participating shops, galleries and museums will be offering promotions, refreshments, activities such as caroling, book signings and artists’ receptions, and local entertainers to create a festive holiday atmosphere. The DIA also is coordinating a Christmas window display contest that will have a “People’s Choice” award decided by popular vote.
DIA Director Alice Moon said on Wednesday that the interest from merchants’ wanting to participate has been great so far.
“Mayor Kenoi really wanted to light up the town for the holidays,” she said. “We thought that if he’s putting his resources into it, we should, too.”
“There will be caroling and festive refreshments, as well as local entertainers along the streets ala Black & White Night as shop owners open their hearts and doors to the community in the holiday spirit,” Moon said.
Shannon Hickey, co-owner of the High Fire Hawaii Gallery & Studio at 114 Kamehameha Ave., said she and co-owner Steven Lang always look forward to participating in Black & White Night, and now they’re excited about the holiday version.
“We’ll definitely take part,” she said. On Black & White Night, “our neighbor has live music and we kind of piggyback on that,” she said, “but we’ll be open for Red & White Night and giving away discount coupons.”
Visitors may also tour the studio where artists will be working and where classes are offered in ceramics, painting and drawing for adults and children, Hickey said.
The downtown business district covers the area from Ponohawai Street to Waianuenue Avenue, and from Bayfront to Kapiolani Street, where families can stroll among the shops around and then head to Kalakaua Park for a tree-lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m.
Moon said the mayor’s office, DIA, and other partners in the community are reviving a downtown tradition that was previously held for several decades and ended 15 years ago.
County employees help decorate the interior of its Aupuni Street building, and their holiday displays will be open to the public on weekdays from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. from Dec. 10-21. Live entertainment, refreshments and holiday activities will take place each weekday at the county building from 5-8 p.m.
Karen Moore, executive director of the Palace Theater, said the success of past Black & White Nights bodes well for this year’s new holiday version.
“We participate every year,” she said.
The Palace stopped showing films and started providing entertainment in the lobby a couple of years ago for the event.
“It’s been very successful. A bunch of people come. The theater lobby is really quite a nice place for people to be and station themselves, then go off on their little forays,” she said
Red & White Night also coincides with the opening of the Island Dance Academy’s annual performance of “The Nutcracker Ballet,” Moore said, and the theater’s lobby will be specially lighted and decorated for the holiday event, and will be open early that evening along with the theatre’s cafe.
As with the Black & White Night theme, the public is encouraged to get in the spirit and wear red and white for the event.
Participants are encouraged to park in the Kamehameha Avenue eight-hour parking lots from Pauahi Street to Haili Street and start at the bandstand, walk around town, and enjoy the “Magical Lights of Downtown Hilo” window displays vying for top prizes. Voters for the displays will be entered into a drawing for prizes donated by merchants.
Mary Bicknell opened Big Island Book Buyers at 14 Waianuenue St. on Oct. 29, a few days before the most recent Black & White Night.
“We just opened and all of a sudden there were all these people in the store. It was tremendous exposure for our new business,” she said. Bicknell also has a bookstore in Pahoa but, being new in Hilo, she was confused by the recent notice for Red & White Night.
“Now that I know, if it’s anything like Black & White night, and it’s promoted well, I want to be a part of it.”
Email Hunter Bishop at email@example.com.