Thursday, December 27, 2001

Fireworks permits and sales have gotten off to a slower-than-usual start.

Fireworks permits
and sales lagging

Fewer permits to buy firecrackers
are being issued so far this year

Rules, public displays

By Nelson Daranciang

New Year's Eve on Oahu could be a lot quieter this year as fewer people seem to be buying firecrackers. And there are also fewer retailers selling firecrackers.

As of Christmas Eve, the Honolulu Fire Department had issued 124 permits this year to purchase firecrackers. For all of 2000 it issued 6,427 permits.

This is the second year that $25 permits are required to buy 5,000 firecrackers. There is no limit on how many permits a person can purchase.

Fire Capt. Kenison Tejada, HFD spokesman, said the decrease in fireworks use was noticeable last year.

"You should notice an even bigger difference this year," he said.

There was no crowd of people waiting outside Daiei Kaheka to buy fireworks when it opened its doors at 6 a.m. yesterday, as there has been in previous years, said General Manager Herb Gushikuma. Yesterday was the first day fireworks could be purchased for the New Year's holiday.

"There hasn't been much of a response so far," he said.

Gushikuma does not expect to sell as many firecrackers this year as in previous years, but said the interest in novelty fireworks that do not require a permit is high.

Susan Trite used to buy firecrackers but plans to have only sparklers and fountains this New Year's. Trite said her decision not to purchase firecrackers has nothing to do with having to buy a permit.

"I rather see things sparkle than things that make a lot of noise," Trite said.

The number of licenses to sell fireworks on the wholesale and retail level and to import and store fireworks is also down this year. There have been 123 licenses issued on Oahu so far this year compared with 167 last year.

Also, retailers who are selling fireworks this year have scaled back, Tejada said.

With a 5,000-firecracker limit per permit, retailers are selling fireworks in quantities that give shoppers options for staying within the limit.

"I'm four short (of 5,000)," said Mary, who did not want her last name used and describes herself as a longtime New Year's celebrant.

"Last year, I was about 200 short because they didn't have these small ones," she said holding up a pack of 168 firecrackers.

Packs range from 24 firecrackers to 5,000.

People hoping to purchase a permit have until Monday. Fireworks can legally be sold until 9 p.m. Dec. 31.

State law does not allow the sale of aerial fireworks.

Mary said she is not willing to purchase another permit to buy more firecrackers because "$25 is a rip-off already."

Diane Kunichika and her brother Mark bought a pack of 5,000. Despite the decrease in fireworks use, they believe there will always be a demand for firecrackers to ring in the new year.

"Part of this is that everything is changing, and you want to try to hold on to something from when you were a kid," said Diane Kunichika.

"I live on the mainland, and I come back home for it," said Mark Kunichika.



Some facts on permits:

>> You must be 18 years or older with a picture ID to buy a permit.

>> On Oahu, permits are issued at satellite city halls during normal hours.

>> On the Big Island permits are sold at the Central Fire Station in Hilo and at the Kona Service Center.

>> On Kauai, permit applications are available at all fire stations. They are processed at fire department headquarters and paid for at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Both offices are at the Moikeha Building at 4444 Rice St.

>> On Maui, permits are available at the Wailuku, Kahului, Kihei and Lahaina Fire Stations.

>> The permits cost $25 and allows the holder to buy 5,000 firecrackers. There is no limit on how many permits each person can buy.

>> Firecrackers may be exploded legally from 9 p.m. New Year's Eve until 1 a.m. New Year's Day.


Public displays of aerial fireworks will be held at midnight Dec. 31 at:

>> Aloha Tower Marketplace

>> Offshore Halekulani Hotel

>> Marriott Ihilani Resort Hotel and Spa at Ko Olina

>> Kahala Mandarin Oriental

E-mail to City Desk

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