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'Enthusiastic citizens' rally for Kailua fireworks


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POSTED: Friday, June 12, 2009

An online petition drive is under way to save the annual Kailua fireworks display on Independence Day.

Without the Kailua fireworks, and with the annual BayFest event moved from Fourth of July weekend to August this year, the Kailua and Kaneohe communities could be facing a drive over the Pali or Likelike for a fireworks fix on the Fourth.

The Kailua Chamber of Commerce declined comment, referring calls to Chuck Cotton, vice president and general manager of KSSK-FM 92.3 /AM 590 and five other stations belonging to Texas-based Clear Channel Communications Inc.

About five or six years ago, the chamber made it known that it would no longer fund the fireworks show.

Cotton, a Kailua resident, offered area merchants who contributed money to pay for the fireworks show a dollar-for-dollar match in on-air advertising. The incentive and the merchants' dollars kept the show going.

“;The Chamber of Commerce had always picked up the bill for special-duty police officers, street signage and the permitting, but this year they said, 'We're not going to do any of that,'”; Cotton said.

“;They've voted to basically wash their hands of the whole thing. I don't get where they're coming from, if 50,000 or 60,000 people enjoy the beach and the town and then stay and watch a fireworks show and spend their money in stores and restaurants,”; he said.

“;I'm still willing to do the matching advertising,”; Cotton said, “;because I want to support this thing.”;

He referred your columnist to the new point man, Scott Carvill, broker for the Kailua-based, family-owned real estate agency Carvill & Co.

“;Everybody assumes the fireworks are going to happen,”; and it has for the past several years “;because of Chuck and the very generous private citizens of Kailua,”; he said.

All told, the fireworks show will cost $40,000, including everything from pyrotechnics to permits to police officers, no-parking signs and more.

Some “;enthusiastic citizens”; put a petition online to gauge public support.

“;First off, we'd like to see the support to know if it's worth us taking the steps,”; Carvill said. “;It'd be great if we could get their support financially as well, but we don't have any avenue to do that.”;

With only a few weeks, “;we may end up pulling this together with private funding again, but we'd like for it to leave the hands of the private funders a little bit.”;

The goal is to garner enough public support that “;the community can rely upon it happening every year,”; Carvill said.

Carvill and his group have been in touch with two pyrotechnic companies as well as various agencies involved in permitting, security and safety, “;and they seem to be very supportive,”; he said.

Carvill said the Kailua fireworks show has illuminated Kailua Beach every July Fourth since 1948, and was canceled only once, in 2002, due to barge problems.

Meanwhile, the Kailua chamber is seeking entrants for the annual parade. The deadline is June 20.

On the Net:

» www.savekailuafireworks.com

» www.kailuachamber.com

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Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)