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County announces full return of Halloween in Lahaina Town

By Staff | Sep 22, 2011

LAHAINA — Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa on Friday announced that Front Street will be closed to motorists for Lahaina’s Fright Night celebration next month, as well as a full return of activities that made the celebration known worldwide.

“It has been a desire of our administration to bring back a safe, fun, family-friendly Halloween event to Front Street,” said Arakawa.

“Our residents and merchants have asked for it, and my administration has worked hard with multiple community groups, organizations and government agencies to bring this event back.”

This year’s slogan is: “Halloween is Back on Front.”

Scheduled events include the Soroptimist International of West Maui/Rotary Keiki Parade, keiki ghost stories, face painting, costume contest and live music at Campbell Park.

Official “Back on Front” Halloween merchandise will be available for purchase.

The county is partnering with LahainaTown Action Committee (LAC) to stage the event.

LAC Executive Director Jeff Rogers said, “The LAC will be coordinating a publicity campaign, the costume contest, entertainment, food vendors and activities at Campbell Park, and all of the volunteers needed for this tremendous event.

“We are still seeking financial support and volunteers from the community to make this a memorable Halloween. We appreciate all the support the County of Maui has provided as cosponsors.

LAC coordinated major Lahaina Fright Night celebrations with street closures from the 1990s until 2008, when the Maui County Cultural Resources Commission denied the organization’s Historic District Special Events Application.

LahainaTown Action Committee didn’t apply in 2009, and the nonprofit could not secure approvals last year. Mayor Charmaine Tavares’ administration repeatedly told the group to address community concerns about the celebration before applying.

Residents opposed to the celebration testified that kupuna and children encountered revelers in lewd costumes, the celebration was too big and improper for a historic town with sacred Hawaiian cultural sites, and there are serious safety concerns with an event that packs tens of thousands of people into a small area.

Ke’eaumoku and U’ilani Kapu explained that Kuleana Ku’ikahi LLC, Ka Halawai o Honokohau, Hui Pono ike Kanawai Na’aikane o Maui, Na Makua o Maui and Na Kupuna o Maui have concerns dating back to 2004, when event promotional materials depicted a headless Hawaiian holding a pineapple, referring to “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

This prompted the groups to question who had the ultimate jurisdiction to close the road and the reasons associated with it before the Cultural Resources Commission.

For this year’s event, the county removed components that would require action by the commission.

If safety is a concern, Ke’eaumoku and U’ilani noted, “what is the sense of having this populated impact to our Historic District?

“We understand that the mayor had made a few promises during his campaign, and that even thickens the pot, knowing that his interest is only for the benefit of the private sectors with no resolve for the issues of our community which may relate to properties that are outside of the county’s jurisdiction. WHO WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE! We will be seeking a petition to intervene and to bring the road closure to the forefront,” they explained in an e-mail.

“There has never been allowed the opportunity for debate… to discuss its historic significance to what may be lost in the struggle of cultural and traditional value; the character of Lahaina is not designated Historic District 2 (post-contact), it is designated Historic District 1 (pre-contact), which would fall under another enforcement policy under the state.

“It is also appalling to say that this event is titled ‘Halloween is Back on Front Street,’ making an assumption that the County of Maui/LahainaTown Action Committee have resolved all issues with the kupuna, the host culture and the general populous, when nothing has been done to solve any of the problems that exist. The mayor swept this under the carpet and is taking full responsibilities to the ongoing genocide we face tomorrow.

The county reported that there will be additional lighting and restrooms placed throughout Front Street to ensure “safety and comfort” for residents and visitors.

According to the administration, the county will continue to work closely with Maui Police Department “to ensure public safety in its highest form.

With permits in hand, the County of Maui will close Front Street to vehicles from Baker to Prison streets from 3:30 p.m. to midnight on Monday, Oct. 31.

To help ease parking and transportation concerns, the county will run additional bus routes to and from Lahaina on Halloween.

The county will encourage local restaurants and bars to serve nonalcoholic beverages free of charge for designated drivers.

Mayor Arakawa feels that events like Halloween in Lahaina are important during economic slumps.

“We need to encourage these kinds of high-profile events in order to stimulate our economy,” said Arakawa.

“In these times of slow to no growth, we have to be aggressive at creating and promoting activities that will bring business to our towns.”