Features | Show Biz Spirits of Christmases past gave cheer for many a year By Wayne Harada Dec. 25, 2011 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. Since Christmas is a time for reflection, reminisce with me to gentler and simpler times. These are my 12 remembrances of Christmases past: 1. Jim Nabors hosted a holiday spectacle, "A Merry Christmas with Friends and Nabors," at the Hawaii Theatre for a decade. He assembled local stars Karen Keawehawai‘i, Emma Veary, Jimmy Borges, the Huber Marionettes and the Diamond Head Theatre Shooting Stars, and tapped his mainland choreographer-director (the late Tom Hansen), who, with military precision, marched his troupers from stage to wings to balcony, all a-twinkle and set to holiday music. It was our town’s Radio City Music Hall-type hoopla. 2. "A Cazimero Christmas," featuring the Brothers Cazimero (Robert and Roland), had quite a mangerly presence when it was staged in front of that iconic grass hut inside Hawaiian Hall at Bishop Museum. Though the tradition has moved to the Hawaii Theatre, singers and dancers celebrating the season amid artifacts and photos of the alii provided an unintended slice of history. While not perfect (there was quite a bit of perspiring in those pre-air-conditioning days), this was assuredly a real "museum piece." 3. The Honolulu Boy Choir‘s long-running holiday stint at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel’s Monarch Room was a heart-tugger in its heyday. You couldn’t resist the cherubic voices and Crest-white smiles on the animated "Numbah One Day of Christmas," from one mynah bird to 12 televisions, and back. 4. When baritone Ed Kenney and contralto Marlene Sai rendered "O Holy Night" for a Waikiki audience, at the Royal’s Monarch Room and the Halekulani’s beachfront stage, poignancy was their middle name. Chicken skin! 5. When Fort Street was a street (before it was a mall), Liberty House (now Macy’s) used to attract throngs with its animated Christmas window displays. A must-see, must-visit destination, with overhead decorations gracing street and lamp posts. Ala Moana Center’s arrival brought big changes. 6. When Sears Roebuck on Beretania Street, between Kalakaua Avenue and Keeaumoku Street, was a stand-alone store, Christmas was pageantry time … in the parking lot. Folks sat or stood to witness and wonder about holiday tidings, with the cast performing the likes of "O Come All Ye Faithful" from a second-floor ledge "stage" that ran across the face of the store. The faithful flocked, also to dash into the store to take a ride up (or down) the city’s first store-installed escalator. 7. HRT (Honolulu Rapid Transit, well before TheBus) buses were dressed up in yuletide paint and designs, making holiday transit fun, especially for kids. You’d skip those "regular" buses and await the Christmas special, but why not? Same fare, but you felt like gliding on Santa’s sleigh. 8. Now that we have annual Christmas season snow (atop Mauna Kea, where else?), singer-pianist-composer Jay Larrin‘s classic "The Snows of Mauna Kea" has become timely and, yes, majestic. 9. There was something awesome and anticipatory when the Pacific Handcrafters Guild occupied Thomas Square to stage its annual Christmas Fair. The tents then boasted original island-made crafts and breathlessly beautiful holiday wreaths for home and for giving. Tents now are taboo but Occupy the sidewalks. Where have all the vendors gone? 10. It was somewhat of a dueling-divas match when Melveen Leed and Loyal Garner, pals who were competitive in the Waikiki night-life scene, put the holidays first in several joint Christmas concerts. The big one was at Blaisdell Arena, with buzz aplenty about an unseen tiff over who got the larger dressing room. 11. Three evergreen island holiday tunes still get radio airplay, but live versions are hard to come by. You still can hear Makaha Sons (minus Bruddah Iz) doing "Christmas Luau," and if she’s on the circuit, Gail Mack‘s "It’s Christmas Once More in Hawaii Nei" still is a sweet treat. But Don Ho‘s "Po La‘i E," the Hawaiianized version of "Silent Night," died when he did. Unless you can find a vintage vinyl recording. 12. It was Dickensian only in inspiration, when Frank De Lima became the title character in a local-style "Scrooge," a theatrical attraction at Diamond Head Theatre. His ad libs would throw off the cast, and if anybody said, "Bah, humbug," they didn’t mean it. De Lima still asks Santa for this past Christmas funfest to become his present and future, too. … And that’s "Show Biz." … Wayne Harada is a veteran entertainment columnist; reach him at 266-0926 or firstname.lastname@example.org; read his Show and Tell Hawaii blog at www.staradvertiser.com. Previous Story Our readers share their family pictures Next Story Too mulch garden? Trim it back!