Huge pyrotechnic displays (most with illegal fireworks) ring in the new year

(Image: Peter Tang)
(Image: Peter Tang)
Published: Jan. 1, 2019 at 2:15 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - New Year’s revelers on Oahu didn’t let warnings from police or a longstanding fireworks ban stop them from welcoming 2019 with the ear-deafening booms of illegal aerials.

In communities across the island, amateur displays lit up the night sky — and at times filled it.

And those fireworks kept first responders busy.

Paramedics said they were called to four fireworks-related injuries, including one that left a 29-year-old man in serious condition. Also seriously injured: A 2-year-old boy in Kaneohe who got dust from fireworks in his eyes.

A 37-year-old woman in Honolulu was also taken to the hospital in stable condition for an apparent fireworks-related injured to her back, while a 19-year-old man in Ewa suffered a fireworks-related injury to his face.

Emergency Medical Services personnel also assisted 39 people who had difficulty breathing.

Firefighters also responded to at least 11 fireworks-related calls, including three small brush fires.

Social media feeds blew up on Monday night with videos of illegal aerials being shot off.

The fireworks spectacle, a tradition in the islands that appeared particularly robust this year, capped off a holiday season during which residents saw an uptick in illegal aerials.

It’s an issue lawmakers and police are almost certain to take up in the new year.

Before the festivities began, authorities once again urged residents to think twice before setting off illegal fireworks.

“People have lost their lives, or lost their limbs due to illegal fireworks,” said Sgt. Chris Kim, of Honolulu CrimeStoppers.

“Also, there’s been numerous fires that have been set due to illegal areas, so please be cautious. We urge you to not do it. Leave it up to the professionals. There’s so many places providing fireworks. Please leave it up to them.”

And many did.

Throngs came out for several professional displays across the island, including in Waikiki.

In Mililani, thousands gathered for an early start to celebrations — and the annual “Pineapple Drop,” an island-style take on the ball drop that happens in New York City.

“I have to see the pineapple drop!” said Shannon Sauter, a new resident to Oahu.

“Sounds better than the ball in New York.”

Mililani resident Dion Pohaku said she wanted to get an early start to the festivities.

“It starts early enough, ends early enough. I can still go home and do whatever I need to do.”

The large, brightly lit pineapple was lowered from a crane at the stroke of 7 p.m., Hawaii time — exactly the same time the ball drops in Times Square.

The crowd also came for the entertainment, including singer and musician Josh Tatofi and band Kalapana. The legendary Hawaii group lost lead singer and founding member Malani Bilyeu Thursday.

“We came for Kalapana,” said Bano Simbre, who also came for last year’s Pineapple Drop.

“We grew up with their music, my wife and I, and we came to pay our respects to Malani. It’s kind of a bittersweet thing, but that’s why we’re here.”

The group performed two songs with a recording of Bilyeu’s voice, including their hit “You Make It Hard.”

“Everybody has their own thing that they remember about the group’s music, and that kind of triggers it, and that’s why we keep on keeping on,” said D.J. Pratt, guitarist and the lone remaining original member of Kalapana still with the group. Pratt said the group will continue to make music and perform.

This story will be updated.

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