Kailua fireworks
show likely back
after hiatus

By Craig Gima

It looks like the annual Fourth of July fireworks show off Kailua Bay will return this year, thanks to the availability of a barge that can be launched from the Lanikai boat ramp.

"I'm really excited about it," said Kailua Chamber of Commerce President Molly Mosher-Cates. "The Kailua chamber is committed to fireworks in Kailua."

Thousands of people were disappointed when last year's fireworks show was canceled for the first time since 1948. A 15-ton barge carrying the fireworks could not make it over the reef into the bay because of high surf, and high winds prevented organizers from launching the fireworks from land.

"We have a barge that's towable on a trailer and is adequate enough to do the Kailua show and can be towed with a small fishing boat," said Donald Pascual, of Hawaii Explosives & Pyrotechnics.

Pascual's company uses the barge off Waikiki for the weekly Hilton Hawaiian Village shows.

The 10-by-40-foot barge was not available last year because it was committed to another show, off Maui, Mosher-Cates said.

"It's very unlikely that there will not be fireworks in Kailua," Pascual said. He said a bad storm could cancel the show.

Pascual said he and his workers were disappointed like everyone else when the show was canceled last year.

"Our excitement comes when the community is satisfied. That's what we do, we entertain people," he said. "When the community is happy, then we're happy. When it's not, it's hard, it's very hard."

The Kailua fireworks show has had problems for the last three years since the state stopped the launching of the fireworks from Flat Island, also known as Popoia Islet, in Kailua Bay because of the effect on birds that nest on the island.

Two years ago a small barge carrying the fireworks broke up overnight and created problems with litter along the shoreline the day after the show.

Pascual said the barge that the company is planning to use is different from the one that had the litter problem.

Larry Lanning, last year's parade and fireworks chairman, was going to try for special permission to hold the fireworks show on Flat Island, but said other people in the chamber were committed to finding an alternative.

"We're not fighting the birds. We're respecting the birds in their natural habitat," Mosher-Cates said.

Mosher-Cates said the fireworks proposal is expected to be approved next week at a special meeting of the Kailua Chamber of Commerce. The chamber will also start soliciting donations to put on the show, which is expected to cost about $20,000.

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