Ready to bid adieu to 2020: Fireworks sales kick off on Hawaii Island

  • Joe Tawater looks over a firecracker permit at Pacific Fireworks in Kona. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Pacific Fireworks proprietor Joe Tawater, left, stands with long time customers George Roldan, Ethan and Nate Goore at the store in Ilima Court. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Nate Goore uses a QR code to see what a fountain will look like at Pacific Fireworks. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • A variety of pyrotechnics for New Year’s Eve are available throughout the island. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Novelty pyrotechnics for the keiki are available for sale at Pacific Fireworks in Kona. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Hawaii Island residents are ready to bid adieu to 2020 and welcome the new year with a bang, and firework vendors are prepared to meet their needs.

Joe Tawater has been selling pyrotechnics in Kona for 20 years, but this year, his Pacific Fireworks store in Ilima Court is set up to comply with COVID-19 precautions and offer buyers the chance to see what they will be getting.

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All customers entering the store are given a temperature check, must wear a mask and adhere to social distancing. Sanitizing stations are spread throughout the area and his employees regularly wipe down the tables.

“It’s been a rough year,” Tawater said. “We didn’t know if we wanted to roll the dice.”

But based on the first day of business on Saturday, it looks like the gamble will pay off.

“It looks like it’s going to be an epic year,” he said.

Tawater has brought in lots of new novelty items, boasting 64 items, and this year, by scanning a QR code, customers can watch a video and see exactly what they will be getting, and how long they will last.

“This is great. Before you just had to wait and see when you blew them off,” said customer Nate Goore.

Tawater said he has the biggest inventory and longest burning fountains on the island.

The family-run business has developed a clientele over the years and Tawater is grateful for their return business.

“We only sell quality items and have a reputation to maintain,” Tawater said.

Pacific Fireworks is one of several vendors on the island that sell the required permit on site for firecrackers.

Each permit costs $25 and entitles the holder to purchase 5,000 individual firecrackers. Multiple permit purchases are authorized. Permit holders must be 18 years old or older and permits are neither transferable nor refundable.

Permits are not required for the purchasing of novelties and paperless firecrackers.

Fireworks sales will end on New Year’s Eve, which is Thursday. Setting off of permitted fireworks is legal only between 9 p.m. New Year’s Eve and 1 a.m. New Year’s Day.

Aerial fireworks, however, are illegal and the Hawaii Police Department is asking for the public’s help in reporting information about the location of these pyrotechnic devices, as well as the identity of people in possession of them.

It is unlawful for any person without a valid permit to set off aerial fireworks. People who violate this law could be found guilty of a misdemeanor or Class C felony.

Anyone having information about the location of illegal aerial fireworks is asked to call the police department’s nonemergency line at (808) 935-3311 or 911 if it is an emergency situation.

“It’s been a hard year, but we’re going to be fine,” Tawater said.

Permits for firecrackers can be purchased at the following locations:

• Parker Ranch Shopping Center Food Court in Waimea from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Thursday.

• Fire Administration Office located at the Hilo County Building, 25 Aupuni Street, Suite 2501, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

• Kona Fire Prevention Office, located at the West Hawaii Civic Center, 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway, Bldg. E, by appointment only through Thursday. Call (808) 323-4760 to set up an appointment.

• KTA Kona; Kona Coast Shopping Center, 74-5594 Palani Road, Kailua-Kona

• Pacific Fireworks, 74-5629 Kuakini Highway, Ste. 155, Kailua-Kona

• BJ Alan Tent Kona, 74-5454 Makala Blvd., Kailua-Kona

• J. Hara Store, 17-343 Volcano Highway, Kurtistown

• BJ Alan Tent Hilo, 325 E. Maka’ala St., Hilo

• BJ Alan Tent Hilo, 111 E. Puainako St., Hilo

• TNT Tent Hilo 381 E. Maka’ala St., Hilo

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• KTA Super Stores Puainako, 50 E. Puainako St., Hilo

“It’s been a hard year, but we’re going to be fine,” Tawater said.

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