By COLIN M. STEWART
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Hamburgers and hotdogs sizzling on the grill. Working on your tan and going for a dip at the beach. Tossing back a few cold ones and talking story with friends and family. Taking in a stupendous fireworks display to cap off the day.
Americans have developed a number of traditions over the years that go hand in hand with the Fourth of July holiday, and Hawaii Island residents are no exception. This year’s Hilo Bay Blast celebration will feature a number of events for all ages and interests, beginning at 10 a.m. and going all day until 8 p.m.
Organized by various private organizations in concert with Hawaii County, the activities offer something for everyone, said Roxcie Waltjen, the county Department of Parks and Recreation culture education administrator.
“People like to spend the whole day down at the bay,” she said. “And they really like to see it end with a boom.”
By boom, of course, she means the town’s fireworks extravaganza over the bay, which is attended and enjoyed by thousands of residents each year. Despite some last-minute changes and funding issues, organizers say they expect the show to go off as planned this year.
“It will be on, regardless. Unless there’s a big disaster or a tidal wave or something,” Waltjen said.
Prior to the day’s festivities, the county’s Mass Transit Authority will begin at 9 a.m. offering free shuttle service to activity sites until 10 p.m. Parking will be available at the parking area near Mooheau Bus Terminal, at the Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium and at the Hawaii County Aupuni Center. The shuttle will run from the Civic Auditorium, along Banyan Drive, and on to Kamehameha Avenue to the Aupuni Center on Pauahi Street. Patrons are asked to wait for the shuttles at the bus shelters along the route.
Throughout the day, children’s activities, including inflatable bouncy rides, waterslides and other “specialty goodies” will be available for keiki at the Mooheau Baseball Field, Waltjen said. Also, a kupuna and ohana comfort station area, located at the makai soccer field on Kamehameha Avenue, will house a total of 20 canopy tents available from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. Tent space will be limited to one per family, and fire safety and rules apply, with no alcohol being allowed.
A variety of food vendors can be found along Bayfront during the day, offering everything from plate lunches to sandwiches to baked goods and smoothies.
Organized events will begin with the Hilo Bay Cook-Off, with competitors already halfway through their two-day contest in the Hilo Bayfront Commuter Parking Lot adjacent to Mooheau Ball Field. Serving as the state barbecue cook-off championship, the annual event pits Hawaii’s finest barbecue cooks against one another in a competition sanctioned by the International Barbeque Cookers Association (see related story, A1).
The ever-popular Hot Rides Expo will offer an up-close-and-personal look at some of Hawaii’s hottest vehicles at the Hilo Bay Canoe Landing Area, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Up to 200 classic hot rods and drag racing cars provided by the Hawaii Classic Cruisers and Big Island Auto Club will be on display for area gearheads to enjoy.
Of course, no hot car show is complete without plenty of cool tunes to keep the proceedings on an even keel. The Hot Rides Expo stage will feature performances by The Boni & Doug Group, the Tomi Isobe Blues Band, Ol’ School Band, the Gin and Cronic Band, and a few surprise artists.
At 7 p.m., the Hawaii County Band will perform its annual Fourth of July Concert, featuring plenty of patriotic selections, in the Mooheau Bandstand.
Following the show, the Hilo Jaycees will present Hilo’s annual fireworks show. In an effort to make the Bayfront shoreline accessible for viewing, Bayfront Highway will be closed from 6-10 p.m. Gates at the Mooheau Bus Terminal, Mooheau Park Ball Field and adjacent soccer field will be opened to allow access to the area. The show is set to begin at 8 p.m.
Organizers remind the public that the Hilo events will be alcohol, drug and litter free, and personal fireworks and smoking are prohibited at all beaches and parks.
For more information, contact the Hawaii County Culture & Education Office at 961-8706.
Email Colin M. Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.