Oahu fireworks sales getting off to slow start
Permit sales are still ongoing
The first day of legal fireworks sales yesterday started slowly, but retailers are hoping it will end with a bang.
As of Saturday, fewer fireworks permits were sold than a year ago at the same time -- 4,672 this year, compared to 4,955 last year, said Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Kenison Tejada. Last year's total count was 13,981, and for 2004 it was 12,662.
AGAINST THE LAW
It is unlawful to:
» Remove or extract pyrotechnic contents.
» Throw ignited fireworks from a moving vehicle.
» Set off fireworks near a school, place of worship, health-care facility and animal facilities.
» Set off fireworks on public ways, and in parks and cane fields.
» Set off, ignite, discharge or explode any fireworks within 500 feet from a hotel.
» Sell or give fireworks to minors, and for minors to possess, purchase or set off fireworks except when under the supervision of a parent or guardian.
Honolulu Fire Department Chief Kenneth Silva offers the following tips for fireworks:
» Always read and follow all warnings and instructions listed by the manufacturer.
» Use only approved fireworks from a licensed retail outlet that has posted their permit at their sales site.
» Ensure that other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
» They should be lit on a smooth, flat surface away from homes, dry leaves and flammable materials.
» Never set off fireworks in metal or glass containers.
» Keep a garden hose or bucket of water ready in case of a fire.
» Never give fireworks, even sparklers, to young children. Sparklers burn at temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Older children should be under the direct supervision of an adult.
Grocery Outlet Owner Albert Respicio said he's bringing in double the amount of fireworks as last year after selling out last year.
Respicio will also face more competition from other retailers selling fireworks. According to city statistics, 170 retailers are licensed to sell fireworks this year, compared to 124 last year.
Shoppers were trickling in and out of his store yesterday, but he believes sales will pick up as the week wears on.
"It's just normal; the customers come around, checking the prices while talking on their cell phones," Respicio said. "They're just looking for the best deals."
But plenty of customers were buying, including lots of big spenders at the Don Quijote Kaheka store, wiping firecrackers requiring permits off the shelves last night. The store was bringing in more today.
Nara Hamada was pushing a cart piled with big boxes of firecrackers.
"This is just the beginning," she said.
"You just gotta get regular fireworks," said her son, Kyson, 9.
She, her two sons and a nephew were shopping with her 66-year-old uncle, who splurged nearly $1,000 last year on fireworks.
"He's the biggest kid of all," she said about her uncle.
Uncle Harvey Yamashita said he'll spend about $600 to $700 this year, and already spent $100 on four permits.
Yamashita said last New Year's Eve was "dreadfully quiet" in Palolo Valley. But judging from how people were shopping and clearing off shelves, he predicted a much noisier celebration this year.
"I never used to spend money like this, but in my old age, this is fun," the bookkeeper said.
The Kimura family of Hawaii Kai had four permits and were purchasing large boxes of regular firecrackers "because the red paper is important," Liz Kimura said. "New Year's is to see the red paper."
Daughter Lauren, 17, said, "It's memories."
The Kimuras go to their friends' house in Kaimuki because their neighborhood is quiet during the holiday.
"We don't want to make enemies of our neighbors," Liz Kimura said.
Store owner Respicio said more stores are carrying paperless firecrackers, which are increasing in popularity and do not require a permit to purchase.
For those who want the real firecrackers, there is a limited time to buy a $25 permit, which may also have an effect on sales. Each permit allows a buyer to get 5,000 firecrackers.
"Because the (Christmas) holiday landed on a Monday, Friday's the last day to buy a permit besides the shopping malls," Respicio said. "You won't be able to get one in Wahiawa, for example."
Police officials have warned that they will be enforcing fireworks laws during the holidays. Although they didn't release staffing numbers in a press conference last week, Maj. Kurt Kendro of the Kalihi Police Station did say there will be a significant number of officers patrolling the streets.
The Federal Aviation Administration also has warned travelers not to bring fireworks aboard a plane under any circumstances. Out of 77 incidents last year where fireworks were caught in the western-Pacific region, 26 of them were from Hawaii.