LIHUE — For Eleele resident Irving Soto, New Year’s Eve is a time for his family to welcome the new year.
“It’s actually just thinking about what we’ve done in the past and how we’re going to move into 2017,” Soto said. “I think that’s the key for all of us in our families, too.”
Like many on Kauai, Soto and his kin also bring in the New Year with a bang.
“From when I was a young kid, as far as our culture is concerned, (fireworks) was something that a lot of us have always cherished and acknowledged — especially here in Hawaii,” he said on Wednesday, as he bought a boxload of fireworks at Kukui Grove Center.
Hawaii is fond of firecrackers and fireworks.
Rooted in Chinese tradition, it is believed the loud noise emitted from firecrackers wards off evil spirits and ushers in a new year.
“A lot has to do with tradition. Everybody has grown up here has grown up with a firework in their hand — even at the age of one,” said Erika Kleinfeld, owner of Pacific Fireworks in Kukui Grove. “They just passed the tradition on and on and on.”
Keeping up with tradition, Ziba Medeiros and her family have permits this year to ignite their way into 2017.
“My kids just love it. They light a strand of firecrackers on all four corners to protect the house for the coming year for prosperity and good luck,” she said. “My kids are all about the colors.”
Kleinfeld is also amazed at the colors that spit from fireworks, especially fountains.
“I see New Year as festive throughout all the islands,” she said. “It’s just amazing how the little kids know that this is a fireworks store. It’s just how they’re brought up. I like how the tradition is passed down from generation to generation.”
An alternative to firecrackers are fireworks which don’t require permits.
“I don’t have a permit, but that’s OK. We have (fireworks),” Soto said. “This is good enough for us. I think for us adults it’s for the kids more than anything else. They love to see the sparks going, the lighting effects.”
Emma Semana, Kmart assistant manager, said the only requirement to buy fireworks from Kmart is adults need to be at least 18.
Some of the more popular fireworks include the paperless variety, fountains and Morning Glory sparklers, she said.
Kmart is selling fireworks until 9 p.m. Saturday.
Growing up on the Westside, Semana said lighting firecrackers and fireworks has always been the norm on Kauai during New Year’s Eve.
“We bust firecrackers growing up and had blown fingers growing up to — never learn,” Semana said, laughing. “Every year is the same thing. It’s a tradition. That’s when everybody gets together and talk story and reminisce.”
Though the tradition of busting firecrackers is long here in the Aloha State, one must purchase a permit to ignite them on New Year’s Eve.
A permit is $25 and it can be used to purchase up to 5,000 non-aerial individual firecracker units, according to Kauai County officials. Additionally, there is no limit on the number of permits an individual may own.
Fireworks may only be ignited on private property from 9 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday.
The Kauai Fire Department said it is illegal to set off fireworks on public property, including streets, sidewalks, beaches and parks. Removing the powder or pyrotechnic contents from any firework is also prohibited.
“We urge everyone to exercise caution when igniting fireworks to help prevent fires and avoidable injuries,” said Capt. Daryl Date of the Fire Prevention Bureau.
Friday is the last day to obtain a permit.
Applications are available at KFD headquarters in the Piikoi building of the Lihue Civic Center on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The Garden Island