What a blast!
Fireworks big bang
One legislator calls it
ammunition on his position
-- a ban on fireworks
'The more red paper, the better,'
says an Ewa woman
'Safe Haven' called successBy Crystal Kua
Across Oahu, they whistled, popped, whizzed, sparkled, burned, boomed, soared and smoked.
And at the home of Terry and Tracy Cabana in Ewa, these fiery, powder-filled paper packets nearly fizzled out moments before the stroke of midnight.
But thanks to the Cabanas' 14-year-old son, Cody, the 20,000 roll of firecrackers was lit again in time to welcome the New Year with a deafening bang.
"The more red paper (from firecrackers) the better," Tracy Cabana said minutes after the final blast.
Fireworks -- island tradition, nuisance or dangerous instrument?
It's a debate that continued into the new century and will likely become a hot topic once again as a result of a smoky, noisy New Year's Eve.
In Ewa, a light breeze guided the fireworks away from the homes at Malako and Punako streets.
Tracy Cabana, 33, wearing a blue paper hat that said "Happy New Year," was like thousands of islanders who decided to stay home to celebrate the new year. She and her husband just bought their home in August and wanted red paper to sprinkle their lawn. "We wanted to bless our our home."
She said she can't picture a New Year celebration without fireworks. "We love fireworks. That's all we ever saw (at New Year's)."
Her neighbor, Leslie Griffin, another new homeowner, also uses fireworks at New Year's because it's a tradition, but she doesn't look as favorably on them. "I think fireworks are dangerous," she said. "The money used for fireworks can be used to buy me a Hawaiian bracelet."
For state Sen. Cal Kawamoto (D, Pearl City, Waipahu), what happened to him last night gave him further ammunition on his position -- a ban on fireworks.
Kawamoto took in the evening showing of "The Green Mile" at the Mililani Town Center Stadium 14.
About 10 p.m., the theater was cleared after the fire alarm went off, Kawamoto said. "The (fireworks) smoke outside went into the vents. ... It set off the alarm."
Kawamoto said he didn't get to see the rest of the movie. "It was crazy."
Mililani was one of the areas that reported heavy smoke. Police issued an advisory just before 3 a.m. warning of zero visibility on the H-2 freeway near the Mililani Tech Park.
Visibility was beginning to wane long before the legal time of 9 p.m. yesterday to 1 a.m. today to set off fireworks. Aerials are also illegal, but booming skyrockets could be seen days ago.
Heavy smoke also settled in valleys such as Palolo and Pauoa. Aiea, Waipahu and the Ewa Plain were also blanketed. Visibility was poor on the H-1 at certain locations.
Cleaning up from the big bang
Kawamoto, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, is sponsoring bills that include outlawing fireworks except for religious and cultural events and making the illegal possession of aerial fireworks a Class C felony.
Sen. Matt Matsunaga, co-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, didn't notice as much smoke as he remembered last year when he drove from Pacific Heights to Kahala but found the fireworks noise significant. "Well, it's certainly louder than it was last year. ... It sounded like a pipe bomb," he said.
Matsunaga said last year's Senate position was for a ban except for cultural and religious purposes and would allow counties to regulate fireworks if they want. The House wanted more restrictions, not a ban.
He said this eve should make an impression on House members. "I'm hopeful it may have an impact, that the House may be more willing to look at the Senate's position."
Save HavenBy Treena Shapiro
respiratory project receives
Some headed to the hills, some flocked to rural beaches, some got hotel rooms, and some took refuge at the movies.
They were all trying to escape the smoke from the New Year's Eve fireworks, which started building early last night and lingered hours after midnight.
Joann Cross of Waikiki took two approaches to get away from the dense smoke over the city: She caught an early evening show at the Wallace Theatres 9-plex at Restaurant Row and then got on a cruise boat to take her out to sea.
"I've got my mask. I had to hire some oxygen just in case," she said. "I love fireworks, but I'm allergic to it."
Unfortunately, she didn't realize that her boat would dock near Aloha Tower at 12:30 a.m., in the thick of the smoke, and it was too late to duck into a midnight show as she had planned. "I wanted to get out on the boat longer," she sighed.
The theater complex was one of the "safe havens" set up as part of a pilot project by the American Lung Association of Hawaii. SAFE HAVEN-2000 was developed to create awareness about and determine the need for clean-air options on New Year's Eve for residents suffering from lung ailments such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
The project generated some 400 calls, which prompted five sites to offer themselves as fireworks-free zones. Other safe havens included the Signature Theatres Dole Cannery 18-plex, the Ilikai Hotel, Camp Timberline in the Waianae mountains and the Malaekahana state recreation area in Kahuku -- all places where fresh or filtered air allowed people to ring in the new year in safety.
The Ilikai rented out all its discounted, designated rooms and Camp Timberline filled all its cabins with 60 people.
"It's kind of do your own thing, bring your own food," said Hayley Kocur, Timberline's director of high adventure.
The camp had been hoping to offer more recreational entertainment, such as arts and crafts, but it was contacted too late to make arrangements. "We were kind of disappointed we couldn't accommodate the people with activities," Kocur said.
At Malaekahana, 150 people, not counting children under 8, registered at 30 of the 40 campsites. "Everyone said they were coming to escape the fireworks," said office manager Molly Maxwell-Stribling.
Although not all campsites were taken, Maxwell-Stribling said she was happy with the response.
"Actually, I had a lot of phone calls and a lot of people didn't know what we were and what we were offering and didn't have tents," she said. "We got the diehard campers."
Wallace and Signature did not give last night's turnout figures, but managers at both theater complexes said they were pleased with attendance.
For Signature, midnight shows were a one-time event. "We did fairly good, we're pretty OK with the numbers that came in today," said a manager. Although no movies sold out, he said the night was good overall.
Turnout seemed poorer at Restaurant Row. About a dozen people waited outside smoking cigarettes before the movies started, while approximately the same number said they were going to the movies to escape the smoke.
Clayton Iida was there because the smoke makes it difficult for his wife to breathe.
"Every year we try to go to a movie," he said. They went to two this year, planning to be in the theaters through the worst of the smoke.
Said Terry Hoganson, who suffers from asthma: "I want to be in air-conditioned comfort when the smoke starts."
This was the first year Hoganson had gone to the movies on New Year's Eve -- but then, she saw the need.
"This is the first year the smoke is this bad," she said.