Hawaii Island residents are once again gearing up to ring in the New Year with a bang.
The county announced fireworks permits will be available for purchase for $25 beginning today. Each permit entitles the holder to buy 5,000 individual firecrackers. Buyers may purchase more than one permit if they intend to buy more than 5,000 firecrackers, according to a release from Mayor Billy Kenoi’s office.
Revelers will be allowed to set off their fireworks beginning 9 p.m. New Year’s Eve, and concluding 1 a.m. New Year’s Day. Permits must be visibly displayed at the site of use while the fireworks are in use.
The permits apply only to firecrackers, said Hawaii County Fire Department Fireworks Auditor Michael Matsui. Isle residents may set off other novelties and paperless firecrackers without a permit during the same period of time on New Year’s Eve.
Matsui explained the permitting system was instituted many years ago to help cut down on the noise and nuisance associated with fireworks at other times of the year.
“Firecrackers don’t really cause much injuries. It’s mostly because of the noise and the smoke, and the pollution and trash,” he said.
Despite some of their drawbacks, the use of firecrackers and other fireworks is a tradition in Hawaii that goes back generations, said Colleen Aina, owner of Pinky’s 5 Eight in Papaikou — a popular vendor that has been in operation for more than 20 years.
“Even though the day we start selling them has been the same for the last 10 years, people always start calling us, wanting to know when they go on sale,” she said. “Everybody’s excited about it. It’s a local custom. People are traditionalists here. They like the red firecrackers, and going to their neighbors’ or their family’s house, and ringing out the old year and ringing in the new year.”
People can get so excited, she said, often she’ll find them camped out in front of her store about 4:30 a.m. on the first day of sales.
“My store opens at 5 o’clock, and I’ll find people outside in line. Some will bring lawn chairs. Some people are still in their pajamas,” Aina said.
The permits will be available at various locations, including vending outlets. They are:
d Fire Administration Office located at the Hilo County Building, 25 Aupuni St., Suite 2501, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, Friday, Monday and Tuesday.
d Kona Fire Prevention Office, located at the West Hawaii Civic Center, 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway, Building E, second floor, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, Friday, Monday and Tuesday.
d Parker Ranch Shopping Center Food Court, Waimea, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today through Tuesday.
d TNT Tent, Prince Kuhio Plaza, Ohuohu Street parking area, Hilo.
d Pinky’s 5 Eight, 27-289 Mill Road, Papaikou.
d Pacific Fireworks, 1177 Kilauea Ave., Hilo.
d Pacific Fireworks Kona, 75-5629 Kuakini Highway, Kailua-Kona.
d Thunder Fireworks Kona, 75-1022 Henry St., Kailua-Kona.
d Longs Drugs Prince Kuhio Plaza, 111 E. Puainako St., Hilo.
Email Colin M. Stewart at email@example.com.