Last Blast for Fireworks in Hawaii?

The center display aisle of my supermarket is hidden from view by a large black drape with a sign “employees only.” But I know what it conceals — fireworks! Huge, enormous piles of fireworks go on sale tomorrow.

July 4 is one of three holidays traditionally celebrated with fireworks in Hawaii. While there are professional displays in most areas of the islands, people really enjoy setting off their own. Lines form before the grocery store opens; customers wait with the permits that will allow them to purchase baskets full of fire-power. Sometimes the neighborhood celebrations are so intense that residents complain of diminished air quality from the explosions.

However, this could be the last big blow-out for inpidual pyrotechnics. The state legislature recently passed a law that would allow inpidual counties to restrict or ban fireworks. (The islands of Oahu, Hawaii and Kauai are each counties. Kauai also includes Niihau and two small, uninhabited islands. Maui County includes that island as well as Lanai and most of Molokai.) This Independence Day is unaffected but it is possible that fireworks sales for next New Year’s could be restricted.

The restriction on fireworks for either New Year’s Day or the Lunar (Chinese) New Year celebrations has a different impact from July fourth. The celebration of the independence of the United States is a governmental holiday that marks an historical event and inspires pride of citizenship. Many communities put on professional displays, along with parades, picnics and other civic activities. But fireworks on either or both of the new year’s celebrations are supposed to drive out bad luck and clear the path for prosperity in the new year. It’s a more personal response that might not be satisfied with a communal display.

I understand concerns about personal safety, air quality and NOISE! I won’t be surprised to see some limits on either amount, power or time that fireworks are permitted. But I predict unhappy residents if personal use of fireworks is banned all together.

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