Fireworks are returning to both Hilo and Kona next month, after last year’s Independence Day festivities were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This has been up in the air for quite a while,” county Parks and Recreation Director Maurice Messina told the County Council last week. “As you know we canceled last year’s fireworks festivities in Hilo and Kona.”
The county plans to proceed with “abbreviated” festivities, Messina said. He said he consulted with Mayor Mitch Roth, the Fire Department, the Health Department and Civil Defense, and they felt they could proceed under the recently loosened restrictions from Gov. David Ige that allows people to go mask-less outdoors.
Still, he said, there won’t be many of the traditional festivities.
Hilo’s event won’t include the classic car show or keiki activities leading up to the fireworks show. The only event other than the fireworks will be a dress rehearsal of the county band at Mooheau Bandstand prior to the fireworks. Nor will there be extended road closures, he said.
People will be allowed to join their families and friends in county parks, but tents and canopies won’t be allowed.
“If you want to bring your lawn chair, bring your lawn chair,” Messina said.”It’s just going to be you as an individual watching the fireworks with your family and friends. We are asking to still social distance as much as you can and if you are in an uncomfortable situation, to wear your mask.”
This year, there won’t be a barge to stage fireworks in Kona, so the county plans to use the old landing strip at Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area, as it used last in 2008. That means the Old A beach park will be closed for the entire day July 4.
“With all that, we think we could do a real good and safe 4th of July,” Messina said.
There won’t be a parade in Kailua-Kona to honor the holiday this year, said Renee Kraft and Barbara Kossow, co-chairwomen of the Kailua-Kona Community Parade Association.
Some of the $37,000 cost of the fireworks display comes from the county, through fireworks permit sales. The associaiton is raising funds to cover the remainder at its website https://paradesinkona.com .
Further details on the fireworks displays on both sides of the island are pending, but the county will issue a press release once everything is nailed down, Messina said.
Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung was relieved to hear the show will go on, as he earmarked $2,000 from his council contingency account for the Hilo show.
“This is a celebration that has brought the community together, people from all walks of life to celebrate our nation’s independence,” Chung said.