Monday, December 27, 2004

Rush to buy fireworks
follows shortage in 2003

Savvy buyers also notice that
last year’s permits do not expire

Kapahulu resident Scott Nakamura knew there had to be a reason for keeping two unused fireworks permits he never got to use last New Year's Day.

They didn't expire.

Yesterday, he put them to good use, purchasing two long rolls of 5,000 firecrackers with the year-old permits. "They are still valid," Nakamura said of the forms with no expiration date.

Fire Capt. Emmit Kane said the Honolulu Fire Department would allow permits purchased last year to be honored at stores because of the printing oversight.

"There's not an area (on the form) that designated an expiration date," Kane said. "Something is going to be corrected with the state law. ... It's not something that people should get used to."

Last year, Nakamura went shopping a few days before the New Year's celebration, only to find that stores had sold out of firecrackers. He recalled his friend throwing away four permits he had purchased, believing they expired after New Year's.

Stores sold out of firecrackers days before New Year's Eve last year. Many residents flocked to the Grocery Outlet in Kalihi, one of few stores that still had fireworks. This year, the store ordered more fireworks.

Daiei shoppers checked out the stores' stock of fireworks that do, and do not, require permits for purchase as New Year's sales began yesterday. Rodney Osamo and his nephew Nicky Osamo looked for something interesting.

"People are starting early," said Jessie Salavea, manager at the Grocery Outlet. He noted that one shopper had spent $800 on firecrackers and novelty items yesterday morning.

At Daiei, shoppers crowded the area where firecrackers, fountains and sparklers were stacked in cases.

Some shoppers said they got a jump start on buying fireworks, fearing that all stores would be sold out before the end of the week.

"It's going to be gone by tomorrow," said Manoa resident Craig Miyasato, who filled his grocery cart with $150 worth of novelty items at Daiei yesterday.

Kapolei resident Brian Leialoha made his fifth stop at Daiei after buying fireworks in other stores. "We will come back here tomorrow," he said, adding that he planned to purchase four firework permits today.

McCully resident Tom Kenley left Daiei with one box filled with a variety of fountains and sparklers to celebrate with friends in Kaneohe on New Year's Eve.

"I figure I'd get it now, or they might not be available later this week," Kenley said.

He said he did not buy a permit because of the cost. "You end up spending more on the permit than you do for the fireworks," said Kenley.

"It hampers the spirit (of New Year's) a little bit."

A $25 permit is needed to buy 5,000 firecrackers. Fireworks will be available at designated stores through the week. City officials are reminding isle residents that satellite city halls will be closed on Friday.

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