July 4 fireworks
to sizzle despite
Rules couldn't be changed inBy Mary Adamski
time to allow a fund-raising carnival
at Ala Moana Park
The carnival idea turned out to be a dud, but fireworks will still light up the sky over Ala Moana Park on the Fourth of July.
Planners of the eighth annual event are still working on financing to pay for the day's celebration, which includes a free concert featuring 28 acts and televised coverage of the fireworks. "We have commitments from a couple of merchants. We are confident we will have a concert," said Dwight Yoshimura, general manager of Ala Moana Center, sponsor of the show.
The question of whether the busy midtown beach park may be the scene of future carnivals is still up in the air. A public hearing will be held Wednesday on a Parks Department rule change that would allow it.
"The community and the neighborhood board would have to give approval before an event of this magnitude goes forward," said City Councilman Andy Mirikitani, who represents the district. "Ala Moana Park is already an overly congested public park" used by 5 million people per year.
Councilman John Henry Felix criticized the city administration for accelerating the rule-changing procedure to accommodate the planners' request for a carnival. "It smacks of intrigue to circumvent the process," said Felix, who has set a 10 a.m. Monday informational hearing before the Council Parks Committee to look into the matter. The proposed change would add Ala Moana to the list of parks where carnivals are allowed.
Mayor Jeremy Harris announced yesterday that the sponsors withdrew their request for a carnival. He said the corporation counsel determined that the rule change cannot be accomplished by July 4. The law requires a 10-day wait after a public hearing before the change goes into effect, which would be July 10.
Earlier yesterday the mayor said: "It would hurt a lot of people islandwide if we didn't have the fireworks display. Thousands of people position themselves to see the fireworks at Ala Moana. If it means we have to have the carnival in order to have a fireworks display, then I think we should have the carnival."
Several residents of high-rises near the park objected to the carnival at an Ala Moana/Kakaako Neighborhood Board meeting Tuesday night. They complained about the traffic congestion that the fireworks display generates each year. They were backed by a 5-1 vote by the board against the carnival.
Dexter Suzuki, marketing director of the shopping center, and Carole Kai, coordinator of the concert, explained that the idea of bringing in E.K. Fernandez Shows arose because there was insufficient funding for the celebration.
To offset less money from the landlord, the planners sought investment from center merchants. Kane Fernandez pledged $65,000 for the fireworks and concert if he could set up his carnival midway. Kai took the request to Harris last month and, she said, got a favorable response.
Fernandez is out of the state and could not be reached yesterday for comment.
Variety School of Hawaii lost a potential windfall when the carnival fizzled. A commercial venture can be set up in a public park only if it benefits a nonprofit organization, and the school was designated beneficiary.
"We're grateful to Kane," said Dwayne Yee, director of the school for children with learning disabilities. He said Kai, a member of the school's board, nominated the school and Fernandez agreed.
"We're a struggling entity," Yee said. Parents pay $9,000 in tuition, but the cost per child is $16,000. "We have no endowment. Right now, we're seeking over $100,000 to renovate the playground."
Harris urged support for the school's fund-raiser planned for July 24. Tickets to the opening of a new California Pizza Kitchen at Ala Moana Center will benefit the school.