Police chief wants ban on non-commercial fireworks, Chinese community says it's an insult - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Police chief wants ban on non-commercial fireworks, Chinese community says it's an insult

Ted Li Ted Li
Boisse Correa Boisse Correa

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Hawaii residents could be celebrating their Fourth of July and New Year's differently, if the Honolulu Police Department has its way.  Chief Boisse Correa is leading a coalition that wants to ban all non-commercial fireworks, which includes ones sold legally.

The police chief says it's a matter of public safety and fireworks pose an inherent danger, but leaders in the Chinese community say it's an insult to their culture.

Whether it's New Year's Eve or Fourth of July, folks in Hawaii have celebrated the holidays with a loud bang.  Fireworks originated from China thousands of years ago, during the Han Dynasty around the year 200 BC.  It's been part of Chinese culture ever since.

"Whether it's weddings, birthdays, grand openings, and even funerals because people believe the sound of the firecracker and the smoke of the firecrackers would chase away the evil spirits," said Ted Li, president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii.

But that sound could be silenced if Correa has his way.

"So we're forming a coalition," he said. "It's being formed this week and we're going to the legislature as a group, asking for a total ban on fireworks."

"And now they talk about taking away the belief of the people that has been passed down for the last thousands of years, people will be up in arms," said Li.

Correa says Oahu has changed over the years, and this move is a matter of public safety.

"Now we have a lot of high-rises and we're more confined in our area and space," said Correa. "And the key thing is prevention for us, preventing injuries and property damage."

But Li says fireworks have become an ingrained part of local culture.

"Whether it's Korean, Hawaiian, Vietnamese or Chinese or even Caucasian, they all burn firecrackers," said Li.  "They all enjoy it."

And if the future of Oahu is no fireworks, Li says it would be like taking away a part of his heritage.

"I think it's going to be very tough for the Chinese community," he said.  "Because it has been a part of Chinese culture for the last thousands of years."

Correa says his department has received lots of complaints regarding fireworks.  The coalition he's part of wants to help pass some sort of legislation this session.

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