Honolulu Hale is buzzing with holiday spirit. City departments are testing their creative chops hoping for the perpetual trophy in this year's tree decorating contest.
The Planning and Permitting Department decided to go non-traditional.
Employees from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation hid their decorations from sight.
"So what's in the tarp?" said Moanikeala Nabarro. "It's a secret. You're going to have to wait and see."
Preparations and ideas for the big contest started in September.
"So, we had together 12 different ideas," said Cindy Fox from Budget and Fiscal Services. "We posted those for about a week and all employees had up to three votes."
Shaka Santa and Tutu Mele are setting the tone. This year's decorating theme is all about the ocean.
The creative ornaments we found -- bright coral spray-painted; toothpicks make up the sea urchin and coral made out of packing foam.
The contest started in the late 1970s. Departments used to hire professionals to design displays. Coordinator Yvette Lee says they've scaled back over the years.
"Because it really started to take away from the spirit when people got really competitive instead of coming in and doing this public display for the people from their hearts," said Lee.
Above all, city employees agree it comes down to the joy of the season.
Committee members pick the best tree and the department wins a perpetual trophy plus a year's worth of bragging rights.