By TOM CALLIS
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Fireworks will go on sale across the Big Island on Wednesday, giving pyrotechnic enthusiasts another reason to cheer.
Fountains, sparklers, firecrackers and other colorful and loud devices will once again be available at retailers, though this year sky lanterns will be a no-go.
Hawaii County banned the floating lanterns last January due to their fire risk.
Battalion Chief Gantry Andrade of Hawaii County’s Fire Prevention Bureau said he’s not expecting many violators, but he noted some residents may not be aware of the ban.
“There’s always that concern,” he said. “We can only educate the public on safety.”
A $25 permit will be needed to buy fireworks as usual; the rule doesn’t apply to the paperless versions.
Andrade said 1,395 permits were sold last year and he expects about the same number this year.
Permits, which allow the purchase of up to 5,000 firecrackers, will be available at the Fire Administration Office, 25 Aupuni St., Hilo; Kona Fire Prevention Office, West Hawaii Civic Center; and Parker Ranch Shopping Center in Waimea.
The following East Hawaii retailers will also have them for sale: the Golden Dragon Tent in Prince Kuhio Plaza, Pinky’s in Papaikou, Pacific Fireworks in the Puainako Town Center, Kadota Liquors and Long’s Drugs in Prince Kuhio Plaza.
Pinky’s owner Colleen Aina said the paperless firecrackers remain much more popular since they don’t require a permit and still offer a bang.
“It sounds like it; it looks like it,” she said. “One good thing is afterward there is very little cleanup.”
Her store is perhaps the most popular fireworks vendor and sees eager customers lining up outside on the first day before the store even opens at 5 a.m.
“It gets all the way into the parking lot,” Aina said.
She said she will offer a “supermarket of fireworks,” adding the first day is always the best for selection.
The paperless firecrackers are also the most popular at KTA, said Mandy Barajas, the senior liquor clerk at the Puainako Street store, who oversees the fireworks stand.
Barajas said the “early bird gets the worm” in terms of selection but noted that sales will likely pick up on Friday.
Aina said her store benefited last year from a fireworks ban on Oahu and she is hoping the same is true this year.
“A lot of them (Oahu residents) came to visit relatives on the Big Island” and light fireworks, she said.
Firework sales will end on midnight New Year’s Eve.
They can set off legally from 9 p.m. New Year’s eve until 1 a.m. New Year’s Day.
In addition to the floating lanterns, it is illegal for anyone to:
l remove the powder or pyrotechnic contents from any firework.
l throw fireworks from or at any vehicle.
l ignite fireworks within 1,000 feet of a hospital, convalescent home, care home for the elderly, zoo, animal hospital, shelter, or church during services.
l ignite fireworks on a public street, alley, sidewalk or in a park.
l sell, offer to sell or give any fireworks to minors, or allow minors to ignite fireworks except under adult supervision.
Other aerial fireworks also remain illegal, including bottle rockets, sky rockets, roman candles, cakes, mortars or shells.
Andrade said their use has gone down over the years, which he attributes to increased inspections of shipments.
As every year, he said island residents should practice caution and common sense when lighting fireworks.
“Just be safe, that’s the bottomline,” Andrade said. “You don’t want to start off the new year with a loss of house, loss of car, loss of life.
“You just want to start the new year off right.”
Email Tom Callis at email@example.com.