By Brooks Baehr - bio | email
LAHAINA (HawaiiNewsNow) – After a three year hiatus the Halloween celebration is returning to Front Street in Lahaina. The party is coming back despite opposition from Maui's Cultural Resources Commission which says the event disrespects Hawaiian culture by allowing nudity, drunkenness, and drug use on sacred ground.
The annual celebration ended in 2007. People complained about skimpy outfits and promotional posters that lacked sensitivity to Native Hawaiians.
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, who was elected in 2010, told mauinow.com he consulted people in the community and area businesses before deciding to revive the celebration.
"There was a survey done that showed literally millions of dollars were being lost because of Halloween not being there and the vast majority of businesses were dependent on Halloween," Arakawa said.
Arakawa says the county worked hard to address all concerns and sensitivities.
But members of the Cultural Resources Commission say the commission was bypassed during the approval process.
"The county put together their own permit, paid their own permit fees and signed their own document. That's my problem about this whole thing. The transparency is thrown out the window. There is no safeguard. The Cultural Resources Commission can't even view this because they took it out of their jurisdiction," said Keeaumoku Kapu.
Arakawa said he met with the commission earlier this year, tried to reach common ground, but couldn't. So, the county planned the event so it did not need the commission's approval.
It will not use Banyan Tree Park, a location under the commission's jurisdiction. And the county reduced the size of the stage because a big stage would require the commission's blessing.
"Taking this away, there is no reason, no legal justification for having to go through the cultural resources division," Arakawa explained.
"He's just circumventing his own process and policies to allow these things to happen and I think it is wrong," Kapu responded.
"If the county of Maui, Mayor Arakawa, wants to have Halloween, he can have it at the Lahaina Cannery Center. He can have it at the Lahaina Civic Center. He can take it out to Kaanapali. But we are asking please remove it from Front Street where it is known to be a historical land for our Native Hawaiian and for our ancestors," said a woman attending a recent protest against the Halloween celebration in Lahaina.
Despite the protest, the party will go on. Arakawa is asking people to tone down the rowdiness and racy costumes. He said the county is planning a family celebration and there will be police everywhere making it the safest night of the year in Lahaina.