We have some frightening news for fans of Halloween in Lahaina.
This year, pedestrians will likely be herded onto the sidewalks, and there will be no bands on stages along Front Street.
There won’t be food vendors, art booths and the big costume contest in Banyan Tree Park either.
Event coordinator LahainaTown Action Committee (LAC) decided to withdraw its Historic District Special Events Application for Fright Night with the Maui County Cultural Resources Commission.
Jill Holley of the Hard Rock Cafe in Lahaina reported that in two meetings last month, the county Planning Department advised the group that staff would not recommend approving the application, and LahainaTown Action Committee should withdraw its request.
LAC officials were also told the county would require 80 police officers at $1,000 each for the night, which is financially impossible this year.
It’s not fair to pin the entire tab on LAC, because police will have to send a large group of officers to the event regardless of the activities scheduled.
LAC was denied a permit for Halloween in 2008, and representatives did not apply last year, due to concerns about whether the celebration is appropriate in a historic town with sacred Hawaiian sites.
Kupuna were appalled to see children encounter drunk revelers in lewd costumes. Some feel their town is overrun and trashed each Oct. 31.
In its application, LAC stated the positive side of Halloween: “This is an annual event celebrated in Lahaina for over 30 years. It unites residents and visitors in a Halloween celebration. Continuing this event provides a significant economic boost for Lahaina Town and Front Street businesses, along with a significant boost for Kaanapali hotels and area businesses.”
To tone down the event and make it more family friendly, LAC proposed changing the Front Street closure request from 6 to 11 p.m. (instead of midnight), barricading historic sites, emphasizing protecting and showing respect for Lahaina’s streets and historic sites in advertising, and moving adult activities — such as the costume contest and live entertainment — away from historic sites.
The application isn’t set in stone, and LAC was ready to work with the community on the celebration that attracts thousands of people to Lahaina each year.
The Department of Planning’s stance is LAC still hasn’t reached common ground with groups in the community opposed to Halloween. These residents want to know what activities are planned and how their concerns will be mitigated.
It’s important to the department and commission that both sides sit down, talk about the issues and move forward, so the community isn’t divided on Halloween.
Planners pledged to help LAC through the application process and stage a successful event in 2011.
Why not bring all interested parties to the table this week? It’s been the same story for three years now.
It’s too bad Lahaina Town can’t re-launch a quality Fright Night fete in a bad year for business. If people are coming to Lahaina on Oct. 31, why not make the night safe, fun and memorable?