The Story of the Kauai Festival of Lights
Auntie Josie’s Kapa’a Christmas House
For 18 years, Auntie Josie Chansky delighted the residents of Kauai with the gorgeous Christmas decorations at her home in Kapaa on Kawaihau Road. “The Kapa’a Christmas House,” as it was known, was brightly lit from the ground to the rooftop. It was a magical wonderland and over the years thousands of adults, children, local residents and visitors from all over the world came to visit.
What made her decorations so special was that Josie was able to turn ‘trash into treasure’. Her one-of- a-kind constructions were made from a rich collection of recycled materials including flash cubes, toothpicks, beer caps, soda cans and egg cartons along with natural objects such as seedpods and pine cones. With care, originality and lots of love these everyday materials came together to create delightfully ingenious decorations.
When her husband died in early 1996, Josie was unable to put up her lights and decorations. Although many offered to help, she was grieving from her husband’s passing, and did not have the spirit to continue. She was determined to immediately sell off her decorations at a garage sale. Elizabeth Freeman, an island resident recognized that if the decorations were sold individually and never seen together again, Kauai would lose a remarkably special tradition. To make sure the Chansky magic would continue to delight the community for generations she went to Auntie Josie’s garage sale and purchased close to half of the collection and Josie donated the rest.
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