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Fireworks delight in Kailua


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POSTED: Sunday, July 05, 2009

Fireworks exploded above Kailua Beach Park yesterday, a tribute not just to the birth of a nation, but also to a community pulling together despite the weak economy.

When residents found out last month that the fireworks show would be canceled this year, more than 300 people and 40 businesses donated more than $53,000—enough to cover the cost and provide a little extra sparkle in this year's show, said Brook Gramann of the group Save Kailua Fireworks.

“;This is our thing, our tradition,”; said Kailua resident Anita Tupouniua, 23, who said everyone has to chip in to keep the fireworks show alive.

“;I feel like it's a community thing,”; said fifth-generation Kailua resident Malia Peters, 38, who donated $100 to the effort.

There has been a Kailua Fourth of July fireworks show ever year for the last 61 years, except in 2002 when there were barge problems.

About 40 members of the Peters family gathered yesterday, some flying in from California. Her family arrived two days early at the park to secure their usual spot—a corner overlooking the bay from the Lanikai end of the park.

She said the annual family reunion wouldn't be the same without the fireworks.

For Kalihi residents Adina and Verne Murakami, the Kailua fireworks show is an “;unofficial”; anniversary. Their romance was sparked at a Fourth of July show nine years ago.

“;I gave her a kiss and she got the tingles,”; recalled Verne Murakami, 41, an engineer for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

“;It was clear just like it is today,”; said Adina Murakami, 43, a substance abuse counselor. They were at the same barbecue and some people were playing with sparklers.

“;He kept trying to scare me with the fireworks,”; she recalled. As they were leaving, Murakami gave her a kiss good-bye.

“;He kissed me on the neck with his poky mustache. That was it,”; she said.

They've been married now for three years.

Kalapawai Market owner Don Dymond donated his own money and collected about $2,000 from customers.

“;I think they did it right this year,”; he said. “;This time they went smaller scale, more grassroots. The community got involved.”;

;[Preview]    Kailua Residents Gather for Annual Fourth of July Parade
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Despite the North Korean missile threat, the annual Independence Day celebration in Kailua continued to draw a large crowd.

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