Story by Matthew Thayer
Lahaina Halloween was a fun little event that may have grown too big for its own good. While there looks to be no stopping this year’s celebration—it falls on a Friday night—it may be the beginning of the end for the street party that attracts costumed revelers from around the world.
A 6-0 vote by the Maui County Cultural Resources Commission has cast a shadow over the extravaganza that evolved from a night of cruising Front Street into the highly promoted “Mardi Gras of the Pacific.” Recent Halloweens have drawn more than 30,000 people to the former capital of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i—but have also drawn complaints about indecent costumes and behavior. The commission voted July 3 to deny Lahaina Town Action Committee permits to host a Halloween program that typically included food booths, costume contests and live musical entertainment.
The commission ruled that the often-bawdy bash does not promote the state and national historic district’s Hawaiian cultural heritage. The decision has left county officials, police and merchants the job of figuring out how to react.
Maui police still plan to prepare for a big crowd for the celebration. The party is scheduled to start in the late afternoon with the annual keiki (children’s) costume parade sponsored by Soroptimist International of West Maui. Front Street will be closed to traffic.
Lahaina Halloween tends to start mellow and grow in intensity as the night and alcoholic lubrication wear on. Many folks turn out to people-watch, and while costumes aren’t mandatory, they make it a lot more fun.
Parking is tight and DUI roadblocks guaranteed.