Laie Elementary students entertained the community at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting event, which was described as the “kickoff to Christmas” by the PCC’s Vice President of Cultural Presentations Delsa Moe.
Held Nov. 29, hundreds of community members packed the CAC to watch each grade perform their own musical number.
Moe, the announcer for the event, said she has been involved with the event since her children were in it. “And now they have kids of their own.” She said her favorite part about the program was the performance of the elementary students because they are always “unpredictable and fun.”
The event started with a talk from BYUH Vice President of Academics John Bell, who was representing President John S. Tanner. Tanner was not able to be at the event due to conflicting schedules, said Alison Davis, his executive assistant. Davis added President Tanner always enjoyed the event and regretted he could not attend this year.
In his talk, Bell said, “We recognize one of the great gifts of Christmas bringing hope into the world is our ‘keiki.’”
Before performances, a giant screen displayed videos of elementary students were either performing skits or answering questions about the holiday season.
The first video showed children wearing headphones listening and grooving out to Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmas Time.” The crowd laughed as younger children trying to dance along in their seats.
In between performances, a girl dressed as an elf would skip on stage and say, “Hi, my name is Keiki and I’m from the North Pole.”
A little girl could be heard in the stand afterwards, “I like that girl.”
Keiki the Elf was played by Rachel Chambers, a junior studying music from Utah. She said, “I was super stoked when they asked me to do it because I love kids. The kids were really cute.”
Throughout the performances, Keiki the Elf came out to try to find where Santa Clause was. After asking kids where he was, to which they responded with answers like Russia or Kauai, a video played and showed Santa’s whereabouts, beginning at the North Pole.
The first performance was from the pre-kindergarteners, who danced to Alvin and the Chipmunks’ “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” and the Cheetah Girls’ “Cheetah-licious Christmas.”
They jumped up and down and stomped their feet while trying to keep the hats out of their faces.
The costumes during the numbers were the best of the night, said Taimi Gutierrez, a senior international cultural studies major from the Philippines. For “Cheetah-licious,” the female students shook their hips and waved their hands while wearing a golden sash across their waist. For “The Chipmunk Song,” the male students jumped up and down and wore snapbacks and baseball caps with red shirts with an “A” on the front resembling the iconic Alvin and the Chipmunks.
The next performance was from kindergarteners and first graders who wore white shirts. It started off with a video asking them: “What do you like about Christmas?” Almost all of them mentioned presents, but one particular boy added, “I like it because we don’t have to sit around and stuff.”
The performance began with an introduction from a boy saying, “Everyone knows Frosty the Snowman is a super groovy guy.” The kids then sang “Snowman Jump.”
A video before the second and third graders’ performance showed students answering the question: “What makes Christmas wonderful?” A blonde girl said she loves playing the nativity. Another girl answered, “It’s the most time I spend with my family.”
A girl introduced the fourth and fifth graders’ performance by saying the children were having an investigation of how the presents got underneath the tree. She said, “We have some wonderful leads that say it’s a big fat guy in a suite.” The song featured a boy in a Santa suit holding up his stuffed stomach.
Pakaroa Haunga, a student from the performance, introduced the musical number. “We wish you a swinging holiday,” he said as he stepped back and did a shaka with both hands as he left.
Another student, Marlee Peters, began the finale, “Perhaps the best reminder of the night is not just what you get, but what you give.” The kids performed with a few signs as well as a man joining to sign the whole song in American Sign Language.
Teachers and staff even joined in on the fun by moving and drumming to Justin Bieber’s version of the “Little Drummer Boy” with plastic cups, similar to the style of “When I’m Gone” from the movie “Pitch Perfect.”
Jared Mariano, a freshman studying information technology from the Philippines, said his favorite part of the event was the finale. He said it was a “really, really good dance. I liked the songs.”
When Santa went out to the kids, they reacted by screaming, jumping in excitement, and throwing hats in the air almost like a Kahuku graduation. Moe asked to take a selfie with Santa, and the kids jumped around to get into the picture. The event concluded with a countdown to light the Christmas tree.
Sarah Lukov, a freshman studying applied mathematics from Laie, said she attends the lighting event each year. “One thing this year was I wish they had done all the lights just at the program.” She explained normally they light not only the Christmas tree, but also all the other lights at the same time as well; the lights across campus were already lit a few nights before the event. “But everything else was awesome. Everyone was together.”
Mariano said it would be awesome if BYUH students had a Christmas performance too. He said, “That would be like Culture Night but Christmas. That would be so cool.” Lukov agreed and said it would be especially cool if each club did their own performance, just like Culture Night.