Here come the holidays

Get ready for snowfalls and sleigh rides at Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center

Yukie Ruidas, 4, wears her winter gloves while catching “snow” with mom Kekane Ruidas during one of last year’s “Let it Snow” events at the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

The Maui News

Snow and sleigh rides are planned this holiday season at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center.

Beginning Saturday, “Let it Snow” returns to the shopping center, running Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through Dec. 23.

Snowflakes will fall on center court during shows at 6:30 and 8 p.m. Shows last for about 10 minutes, orchestrated to holiday music featuring a different music genre at each snowfall. Grammy and Na Hoku winner Kalani Pe’a will perform Dec. 5 and debut his new holiday song.

The snowflakes are really millions of “bubbles” made from water that act like real snow, the center said. The system, custom designed for the center and operated by a snow technician, adopts special effects from Hollywood movie sets.

Center court at the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center becomes a virtual winter wonderland during last year’s “Let it Snow” event on Dec. 22. The “snow” is set to fall again.

The snow vanishes on contact and does not accumulate, but because it is water-based it is OK to catch a snowflake on the tip of the tongue.

The snowfall in Kahului debuted last year.

“We were amazed by the incredible support and tremendously positive response we received from the community with our ‘Let it Snow!’ show last year, and to have Kalani Pe’a honor us with his beautiful voice,” said Toni Rojas, director of marketing for Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. “Our goal is to help families and friends create heart-warming memories and traditions they will cherish and talk about.”

There will be free Starbucks hot chocolate for early arrivals. Decorative holiday keiki headbands and snowflake wands that light-up will be sold as a benefit for nonprofit organizations.

The snow may not stick but sleigh rides for children are planned for the parking lot on the Kaahumanu Avenue-Kane Street corner of the center from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 8.

Da Maui Sleigh, a visitor to island communities for more than 15 years, will be giving free rides at the center on its carriage. The event is expected to draw a large crowd, and keiki crafts and letters to Santa will be available to keep the children busy while waiting for their turn. There are no reservations.

Children and adults with special needs are welcome to enjoy Da Maui Sleigh from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. General admission commences at 5:30 p.m. with the last ride scheduled at 8:20 p.m.

The 8-foot-by-4-foot carriage can carry about 12 people per ride and is equipped with brake lights, step stairs and other safety measures. It is equipped with snow blowers, bubble dispensers, flashing neon lights and a booming stereo, as well.

The idea started as a pastime for James Presbitero and his family. In an interview with The Maui News in 2014, Presbitero said he and his father got the idea from watching a car towing a small trailer. They wondered if they could build a small carriage for the holiday season.

The first version of Da Maui Sleigh was a small red wooden carriage decorated with two strings of lights and “Mele Kalikimaka” hand-painted on the side panel. The carriage was not ridden by children but Presbitero and his father would dress up and pass out candy from the sleigh as it cruised down their street. Da Maui Sleigh grew from there.

Thousands of children each holiday season ride the sleigh that visits various Maui neighborhoods.

“We are so very excited to bring Da Maui Sleigh to QKC this year and know the keiki will really enjoy this new sleigh theme,” said Rojas. “James, Santa and his team of elves truly exude the spirit of the holiday season.”

For more information, go to or call guest services at 877-4325.